Transcript: Democratic Presidential Debate in Brooklyn

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THE NEW YORK TIMES — APRIL 15, 2016

Following is a transcript of the Democratic debate, as transcribed by the Federal News Service.

BLITZER: Secretary Clinton and Senator Sanders, you can now move to your lecterns while I explain a few ground rules. As moderator, I’ll guide the discussion, asking questions and follow-ups. You’ll also get questions from Dana Bash and Errol Louis. You’ll each have one minute and 15 seconds to answer questions, 30 seconds for follow- ups. Timing lights will signal when your time is up. Both candidates have agreed to these rules now. Opening statements, you’ll each have two minutes.

Let’s begin with Senator Sanders.

(APPLAUSE)

SANDERS: Wolf, thank you very much. CNN, thank you very much. Secretary Clinton, thank you very much.

When we began this campaign almost a year ago, we started off at 3 percent in the polls. We were about 70 points behind Secretary Clinton. In the last couple of weeks, there were two polls out there that had us ahead.

(APPLAUSE)

Of the last nine caucuses and primaries, we have won eight of them, many of them by landslide victories.

(APPLAUSE)

Over the last year, we have received almost 7 million individual campaign contributions, averaging — guess what — $27 apiece, more individual campaign contributions than any candidate in American history at this point in a campaign.

The reason that our campaign has done so well is because we’re doing something very radical: We’re telling the American people the truth. And the truth is that this country is not going to move forward in a significant way for working people unless we overturn this disastrous Citizens United Supreme Court decision…

(APPLAUSE)

… and unless we have real campaign reform so that billionaires and super PACs cannot buy elections.

(APPLAUSE)

This campaign is also determined to end a rigged economy where the rich get richer and everybody else get poorer, and create an economy that works for all of us, not just the 1 percent.

Thank you.

BLITZER: Secretary Clinton? CLINTON: Well, first of all, it’s great to be here in New York, and I am delighted to…

(APPLAUSE)

… have this chance to discuss the issues that are important to our future. I was so honored to serve as a senator from New York for eight years…

(APPLAUSE)

… and to work to provide opportunity for all of our citizens to make it possible that we could knock down the barriers that stand in the way of people getting ahead and staying ahead.

And during those eight years, we faced some difficult challenges together. We faced 9/11. We worked hard to rebuild New York. I was particularly concerned about our first responders and others who’d been affected in their health by what they had experienced. We worked hard to bring jobs from Buffalo to Albany and all parts of New York to give more hard-working people a chance to really make the most out of their own talents.

And we worked hard to really keep New York values at the center of who we are and what we do together.

(APPLAUSE)

And that is — that is exactly what I want to do as your president. We will celebrate our diversity. We will work together, bringing us back to being united, setting some big, bold, progressive goals for America. That’s what I’m offering in this campaign, to build on the work, to build on the value that we share here in New York, to take those to Washington, and to knock down those barriers that in any way hold back not only individual Americans, bur our country from reaching our full potential. That is what my campaign is about.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Thank you, Secretary.

We are going to deal with many of the issues both of you just raised. I want to begin with a question that goes right to the heart of which one of you should be the Democratic presidential nominee.

BLITZER: Senator Sanders, in the last week, you’ve raised questions about Secretary Clinton’s qualifications to be president. You said that something is clearly lacking in terms of her judgment and you accused her of having a credibility gap.

So let me ask you, do you believe that Secretary Clinton has the judgment to be president?

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (D-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, I’ve known Secretary Clinton, how long, 25 years?

We worked together in the Senate. And I said that in response to the kind of attacks we were getting from the Clinton, uh, campaign. “Washington Post” headline says “Clinton Campaign says Sanders is Unqualified” and that’s what the surrogates were saying.
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Does Secretary Clinton have the experience and the intelligence to be a president?

Of course she does.

(APPLAUSE)

SANDERS: But I do question…

(APPLAUSE)

SANDERS: — but I do question her judgment. I question a judgment which voted for the war in Iraq…

(APPLAUSE)

SANDERS: — the worst foreign policy blunder in the history of this country, voted for virtually every disastrous trade agreement which cost us millions of decent-paying jobs. And I question her judgment about running super PACs which are collecting tens of millions of dollars from special interests, including $15 million from Wall Street.

I don’t believe that that is…

(APPLAUSE)

SANDERS: — the kind of judgment we need to be the kind of president we need.

BLITZER: Secretary Clinton?

HILLARY CLINTON (D-NY), FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:Well, it is true that now that the spotlight is pretty bright here in New York, some things have been said and Senator Sanders did call me unqualified. I’ve been called a lot of things in my life. That was a first.

(LAUGHTER)

CLINTON: And then he did say that…

(APPLAUSE)

CLINTON: — he had to question my judgment. Well, the people of New York voted for me twice to be their senator from New York and…

(APPLAUSE)

CLINTON: — and…

(APPLAUSE)

CLINTON: — and President Obama trusted my judgment enough to ask me to be secretary of State for the United States.

(APPLAUSE)

CLINTON: So, look, we have disagreements on policy. There’s no doubt about it. But if you go and read, which I hope all of you will before Tuesday, Senator Sanders’ long interview with the “New York Daily News,” talk about judgment and talk about the kinds of problems he had answering questions about even his core issue, breaking up the banks.

When asked, he could not explain how…

(LAUGHTER)

CLINTON: — that would be done and…

(APPLAUSE)

CLINTON: — when asked…

(APPLAUSE)

CLINTON: — when asked about a number of foreign policy issues, he could not answer about Afghanistan, about Israel, about counterterrorism, except to say if he’d had some paper in front of him, maybe he could.

I think you need to have the judgment on day one to be both president and commander-in-chief.

BLITZER: Senator…

(APPLAUSE)

SANDERS: And let’s talk about judgment.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes!

(APPLAUSE)

SANDERS: And let us talk about the worst foreign policy blunder in the modern history of this country…

(APPLAUSE)

SANDERS: I led the opposition to that war. Secretary Clinton voted for that. Well, let’s talk about judgment. Let’s talk about super PACs and 501(c)(4)s, money which is completely undisclosed.

Where does the money come from?

Do we really feel confident about a candidate saying that she’s going to bring change in America when she is so dependent on big money interests?

I don’t think so.

(APPLAUSE)

CLINTON: Well, let me…

SANDERS: We have…

CLINTON: — let me just say…

SANDERS: — (INAUDIBLE)…

CLINTON: — let me — let me say…

BLITZER: Madam Secretary, let him finish.

CLINTON: OK.

SANDERS: Thirdly, we have got to understand that in America, we should be thinking big, not small.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Thank you.

SANDERS: We need to join the rest of the industrialized world and guarantee health care to all people. So I…

(APPLAUSE)

SANDERS: — my (INAUDIBLE).

BLITZER: Thank you, Senator.

Secretary?

CLINTON: Well, make — make no mistake about it, this is not just an attack on me, it’s an attack on President Obama. President Obama…

(BOOS)

CLINTON: You know, let me tell you why. You may not like the answer, but I’ll tell you why. President Obama had a super PAC when he ran. President Obama took tens of millions of dollars from contributors. And President Obama was not at all influenced when he made the decision to pass and sign Dodd-Frank, the toughest regulations…

(APPLAUSE)

CLINTON: — on Wall Street in many a year.

CLINTON: So this is — this is a phony — this is a phony attack that is designed to raise questions when there is no evidence or support, to undergird the continuation that he is putting forward in these attacks.

BLITZER: Thank, Secretary. We’re going to continue on this, but I want Dana Bash to continue with the questioning.

BASH: Secretary Clint, the government announced yesterday that five of the biggest banks on Wall Street have failed to develop plans to dismantle themselves in the event of another financial crisis. This is the second time in two years those banks neglected to come up with credible plans. So, as president, would you call on regulators to start the process of breaking up these banks? Something that the law not only allows, but actually explicitly encourages?

CLINTON: Absolutely. You know, this is what I’ve saying for the past year. No bank is too big to fail, no executive too powerful to jail.

I have been talking about what we should be doing under Dodd- Frank. I’m glad that Senator Sanders is now joining in talking about Dodd-Frank, because Dodd-Frank sets forth the approach that needs to be taken. I believe, and I will appoint regulators who are tough enough and ready enough to break up any bank that fails the test under Dodd-Frank.

There are two sections there. If they fail either one, that they’re a systemic risk, a grave risk to our economy, or if they fail the other, that their living wills, which is what you’re referring to, is inadequate.

Let’s look at what is at stake here. We can never let Wall Street wreck Main street again. I spoke out against Wall Street when I was a Senator from New York. I have been standing up and saying continuously we have the law. We’ve got to execute under it. So, you’re right. I will move immediately to break up any financial institution, but I go further because I want the law to extend to those that are part of the shadow banking industry. The big insurance companies, the hedge funds, something that I have been arguing for now a long time…

BASH: … Thank you, Secretary. Senator Sanders, you were recently asked what you would replace the big Wall Street banks with if you could break them up. You said, quote, “That’s their decision.”

Why would you trust the banks to restructure themselves? SANDERS: First, Dana…

BASH: when you said the whole business model was fraudulent?

SANDERS: That’s right. So, let’s start off with the basic premise. A few days ago Goldman Sachs formally reached a settlement with the United States government for $5 billion dollars. What Goldman Sachs acknowledged was, essentially, that they were selling fraudulent packages of subprime mortgage loans.

Goldman Sachs was not the only bank, other banks, of course, did the same. Now, I don’t need Dodd-Frank now to tell me that we have got to break up these banks, A, because they’re based on fraudulent principles, and B, because when you have six financial institutions that have assets equivalent to 58% of the GFP of this country, they are just too big, too much concentration of wealth and power.

BASH: But, Senator…

SANDERS: The point is we have got to break them up so that they do not pose a systemic risk and so that we have a vibrant economy with a competitive financial system.

BASH: But Senator, you didn’t answer the specific question which is not just about breaking up the banks, but why allow the banks to do it themselves?

SANDERS: Because I’m not sure that the government should say is you are too big to fail. You’ve got to be a certain size. And, then the banks themselves can figure out what they want to sell off. I don’t know that it’s appropriate that the Department of Treasury to be making those decisions. What we need is to make sure that they are safe.

(APPLAUSE)

CLINTON: Dana, you know — I love being in Brooklyn.

(APPLAUSE) (CHEERING)

CLINTON: Dana, let me add here that there are two ways to at this under Dodd-Frank, which is after all the law we passed under President Obama, and I’m proud that Barney Frank, one of the authors, has endorsed me because what I have said continuously is, yes, sometimes the government may have to order certain actions. Sometime the government can permit the institution themselves to take those actions. That has to be the judgement of the regulators.

But, there’s another element to this. I believe strongly that executives of any of these organizations should be financially penalized if there is a settlement.

(APPLAUSE)

CLINTON: They should have to pay up through compensation or bonuses because we have to go after not just the big giant institution, we have got to go after the people who are making the decisions in the institutions.

BASH: Thank you, Madam Secretary.

CLINTON: And hold them accountable as well.

(APPLAUSE)

BASH: Senator Sanders, you have consistently criticized Secretary Clinton for accepting money from Wall Street. Can you name one decision that she made as senator that shows that he favored banks because of the money she received?

SANDERS: Sure. Sure. The obvious decision is when the greed and recklessness and illegal behavior of wall street brought this country into the worst economic downturn since the Great Recession — the Great Depression of the ’30s, when millions of people lost their jobs, and their homes, and their life savings, the obvious response to that is that you’ve got a bunch of fraudulent operators and that they have got to be broken up.

That was my view way back, and I introduced legislation to do that. Now, Secretary Clinton was busy giving speeches to Goldman Sachs for $225,000 a speech.

(APPLAUSE)

SANDERS: So the problem response — the proper response in my view is we should break them up. And that’s what my legislation does.

CLINTON: Well, you can tell, Dana, he cannot come up with any example, because there is no example.

(APPLAUSE)

CLINTON: It is important — it’s always important. It may be inconvenient, but it’s always important to get the facts straight. I stood up against the behaviors of the banks when I was a senator.

I called them out on their mortgage behavior. I also was very willing to speak out against some of the special privileges they had under the tax code. When I went to the secretary of state office, the president — President Obama led the effort to pass the Dodd-Frank bill.

That is the law. Now, this is our ninth debate. In the prior eight debates, I have said, we have a law. You don’t just say, we’re upset about this. I’m upset about it. You don’t just say, go break them up. You have a law, because we are a nation of laws.

BASH: Thank you, Madam Secretary.

CLINTON: So I support Dodd-Frank, but I have consistently said that’s not enough. We’ve got to include the shadow banking sector.

BASH: Thank you. Senator Sanders.

(APPLAUSE)

SANDERS: Secretary Clinton called them out. Oh my goodness, they must have been really crushed by this. And was that before or after you received huge sums of money by giving speaking engagements? So they must have been very, very upset by what you did.

Look, here is the difference and here is the clear difference. These banks, in my view, have too much power. They have shown themselves to be fraudulent organizations endangering the well-being of our economy.

If elected president, I will break them up. We have got legislation to do that, end of discussion.

(APPLAUSE)

BASH: Secretary Clinton, if I may, Senator Sanders keeping bringing up the speeches that you gave to Goldman Sachs. So I’d like to ask you, so you’ve said that you don’t want to release the transcripts, until everybody does it, but if there’s nothing in those speeches that you think would change voters’ minds, why not just release the transcripts and put this whole issue to bed?

(APPLAUSE)

CLINTON: You know, first of all — first of all, there isn’t an issue. When I was in public service serving as the senator from New York, I did stand up to the banks. I did make it clear that their behavior would not be excused.

I’m the only one on this stage who did not vote to deregulate swaps and derivatives, as Senator Sanders did, which led to a lot of the problems that we had with Lehman Brothers.

Now, if you’re going to look at the problems that actually caused the Great Recession, you’ve got to look at the whole picture. It was a giant insurance company, AIG. It was an investment bank, Lehman Brothers. It was mortgage companies like Countrywide.

I’m not saying that Senator Sanders did something untoward when he voted to deregulate swaps and derivatives…

BASH: Madam Secretary…

CLINTON: … but the fact is he did.

CLINTON: And that contributed to the collapse of Lehman Brothers and started the cascade…

(APPLAUSE)

(CROSSTALK)

BASH: Senator Sanders, one second, please. Secretary Clinton, the question was about the transcripts of the speeches to Goldman Sachs.

(APPLAUSE)

Why not release them?

CLINTON: I have said, look, there are certain — there are certain expectations when you run for president. This is a new one. And I’ve said, if everybody agrees to do it — because there are speeches for money on the other side. I know that.

But I will tell you this, there is — there is a long-standing expectation that everybody running release their tax returns, and you can go — you can go to my website and see eight years of tax returns. And I’ve released 30 years of tax returns. And I think every candidate, including Senator Sanders and Donald Trump, should do the same.

(APPLAUSE)

BASH: Secretary Clinton, we’re going to get to the tax returns later, but just to put a button on this, you’re running now for the Democratic nomination.

CLINTON: Right.

BASH: And it is your Democratic opponent and many Democratic voters who want to see those transcripts. It’s not about the Republicans…

(CROSSTALK)

(APPLAUSE)

CLINTON: You know, let’s set the same standard for everybody. When everybody does it, OK, I will do it, but let’s set and expect the same standard on tax returns. Everybody does it, and then we move forward.

BLITZER: Thank you.

SANDERS: Well, let me respond. Secretary Clinton, you just heard her, everybody else does it, she’ll do it. I will do it.

(APPLAUSE)

I am going to release all of the transcripts of the speeches that I gave on Wall Street behind closed doors, not for $225,000, not for $2,000, not for two cents. There were no speeches.

(APPLAUSE)

And second of all, of course we will release our taxes. Jane does our taxes. We’ve been a little bit busy lately. You’ll excuse us. But we will…

BLITZER: Senator…

SANDERS: We will get them out.

BLITZER: Senator…

CLINTON: Well, you know, there are a lot of copy machines around.

BLITZER: Senator, when are you — when are you — you’ve been asked for weeks and weeks to release your tax returns.

SANDERS: Well, I think we got one that’s coming out tomorrow.

BLITZER: Which one?

SANDERS: Last year’s.

BLITZER: 2014?

SANDERS: Yes.

BLITZER: What about 2013, all the other ones?

SANDERS: You’ll get them, yes. Yeah, look, I don’t want to get anybody very excited. They are very boring tax returns. No big money from speeches, no major investments. Unfortunately — unfortunately, I remain one of the poorer members of the United States Senate. And that’s what that will show.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: So, Senator, just to be clear, tomorrow you will release the 2014 tax returns from you and your family?

SANDERS: Yes.

BLITZER: And what about the earlier ones? What’s the problem… SANDERS: Yes.

BLITZER: What’s taking so long? Because you just have to go to the filing cabinet, make a copy, and release them.

(APPLAUSE)

SANDERS: Wolf, the answer is, you know, what we have always done in my family is, Jane does them. And she’s been out on the campaign trail. We will get them out. We’ll get them out very shortly. It’s not a big deal.

BLITZER: Thank you. Senator, Senator, you’ve slammed companies like General Electric and Verizon for moving jobs outside of the United States. Yesterday, the CEO of Verizon called your views contemptable and said in your home state of Vermont Verizon has invested more than $16 million and pays millions of dollars a year to local businesses. He says you are, quote, “uninformed on this issue” and disconnected from reality. Given your obvious contempt for large American corporations, how would you as president of the United States be able to effectively promote American businesses around the world?

SANDERS: Well, for a start, I would tell the gentleman who’s the CEO at Verizon to start negotiating with the Communication Workers of America.

(APPLAUSE)

And this is — this is a perfect example, Wolf, of the kind of corporate greed which is destroying the middle class of this country. This gentleman makes $18 million a year in salary. That’s his — that’s his compensation. This gentleman is now negotiating to take away health care benefits of Verizon workers, outsource call center jobs to the Philippines, and — and trying to create a situation where workers will lose their jobs. He is not investing in the way he should in inner cities in America.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: All right. Senator, but the question was, the question was, given your contempt for large American corporations, as president, how would you be able to promote American business around the world?

SANDERS: First of all, the word contempt is not right. There are some great businesses who treat their workers and the environment with respect.

(APPLAUSE)

SANDERS: Verizon happens not to be one of them.

(APPLAUSE)

SANDERS: And what we need to do is to tell this guy Immelt, who’s the head of General Electric, he doesn’t like me, well, that’s fine. He has outsourced hundreds of thousands of decent-paying jobs throughout the world…

(APPLAUSE)

SANDERS: — cut his workforce here substantially and in a given year, by the way, it turns out that both Verizon and General Electric, in a given year, pay nothing in federal income tax despite making billions in profits.

(BOOS)

BLITZER: But Senator, experts say that no matter the means to bring back these jobs to the United States, prices of goods for consumers in the United States would go up, which would disproportionately impact the poor and middle class.

So how do you bring back these jobs to the United States without affecting the cost of goods to America’s middle class and poor?

SANDERS: Well, for a start, we’re going to raise the minimum wage to 15 bucks an hour.

(APPLAUSE)

SANDERS: And number two, while it is true we may end up paying a few cents more for a hamburger in McDonald’s, at the end of the day, what this economy desperately needs is to rebuild our manufacturing sector with good-paying jobs.

(APPLAUSE)

SANDERS: We cannot continue to sustain the loss of millions of decent-paying jobs that we have seen over the last 20, 30 years, based on trade agreements of which Secretary Clinton has voted for almost every one of those. That has got to change.

BLITZER: Thank you.

Secretary…

(LAUGHTER)

BLITZER: — Secretary Clinton?

(APPLAUSE)

CLINTON: Well, first of all, I do have a very comprehensive plan to create more jobs and I think that has to be at the center of our economic approach. And so I think it is important that we do more on manufacturing. I went to Syracuse and laid out a $10 billion plan that would, I believe, really jump-start advanced manufacturing.

I have seen the results of what can happen when we have the government cooperating with business. And that’s exactly what I will do.

When I was secretary of State, I helped to lead the way to increased exports of American good around the world, which supports tens of thousands of jobs.

So I think you’ve got to go at this with a sense of how to accomplish the goal we are setting — more good jobs with rising incomes for people everywhere from inner cities to rural areas to every distressed community in America. And that’s exactly what my plan would bring about.

I think we have a pretty good record if we look at what happened…

BLITZER: Senator…

CLINTON: — in the 1990s, we got 23 million new jobs and incomes went up for everybody.

BLITZER: Thank you.

CLINTON: Let’s do that again in America.

BLITZER: Senator, how do you…

SANDERS: I’m going to respond…

BLITZER: I’ll have you respond in a moment.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Stand by.

SANDERS: Well, look…

BLITZER: Secretary Clinton… (CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: You will respond in a moment, but I have to follow-up with Secretary Clinton.

You stood on the stage with Governor Cuomo in support of new legislation to raise New York’s minimum wage to $15 an hour. But you do not support raising the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour.

As president…

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: — if a Democratic Congress put a $15 minimum wage bill on your desk, would you sign it?

CLINTON: Well, of course I would. And I have supported…

(APPLAUSE)

CLINTON: — I have supported the fight for 15. I am proud to have the endorsement of most of the unions that have led the fight for 15. I was proud to stand on the stage with Governor Cuomo, with SEIU and others who have been leading this battle and I will work as hard as I can to raise the minimum wage. I always have. I supported that when I was in the Senate.

SANDERS: Well, look…

CLINTON: But what I have also said is that we’ve got to be smart about it, just the way Governor Cuomo was here in New York. If you look at it, we moved more quickly to $15 in New York City, more deliberately toward $12, $12.50 upstate then to $15. That is exactly my position. It’s a model for the nation and that’s what I will do as president.

BLITZER: Thank you.

CLINTON: Go as quickly as…

(CROSSTALK)

CLINTON: — to get to $15.

(APPLAUSE)

SANDERS: I am sure a lot of people are very surprised to learn that you supported raising the minimum wage to 15 bucks an hour.

(APPLAUSE)

CLINTON: You know, wait a minute…

SANDERS: (INAUDIBLE).

CLINTON: — wait a minute. SANDERS: (INAUDIBLE).

CLINTON: — wait, wait…

SANDERS: That’s just not accurate. Well…

CLINTON: Come on, I have stood on the debate stage…

SANDERS: — well and I…

CLINTON: — with Senator Sanders eight…

(CROSSTALK)

CLINTON: — times.

SANDERS: Excuse me.

CLINTON: I have said the…

SANDERS: Well…

CLINTON: Exact same thing.

BLITZER: Secretary, Senator, please.

CLINTON: If we can…

(CROSSTALK)

CLINTON: — raise it to $15 in New York…

(CROSSTALK)

CLINTON: — or Los Angeles or Seattle…

BLITZER: Secretary, the viewers…

CLINTON: — let’s do it.

BLITZER: If you’re both screaming at each other, the viewers won’t be able to hear either of you.

SANDERS: OK.

BLITZER: So please…

SANDERS: I will…

BLITZER: — don’t talk over each other.

SANDERS: I believe I was…

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: Go ahead.

SANDERS: — responding.

All right? When this campaign began, I said that we got to end the starvation minimum wage of $7.25, raise it to $15. Secretary Clinton said let’s raise it to $12. There’s a difference. And, by the way, what has happened is history has outpaced Secretary Clinton, because all over this country, people are standing up and they’re saying $12 is not good enough, we need $15 an hour.

CLINTON: OK.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Go ahead, Secretary. Secretary?

SANDERS: And suddenly…

BLITZER: Secretary, go ahead.

SANDERS: To suddenly…

CLINTON: Thank you. Thank you very much.

SANDERS: To suddenly announce now that you’re for $15, I don’t think is quite accurate.

BLITZER: All right. Secretary?

CLINTON: All right. I have said from the very beginning that I supported the fight for $15. I supported those on the front lines of the fight for — it happens to be true. I also — I supported the $15 effort in L.A. I supported in Seattle. I supported it for the fast food workers in New York.

The minimum wage at the national level right now is $7.25, right? We want to raise it higher than it ever has been, but we also have to recognize some states and some cities will go higher, and I support that. I have taken my cue from the Democrats in the Senate, led by Senator Patty Murray and others, like my good friend Kirsten Gillibrand, who has said we will set a national level of $12 and then urge any place that can go above it to go above it.

Going from $7.25 to $12 is a huge difference. Thirty-five million people will get a raise. One in four working mothers will get a raise. I want to get something done. And I think setting the goal to get to $12 is the way to go, encouraging others to get to $15. But, of course, if we have a Democratic Congress, we will go to $15.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Senator, go ahead.

SANDERS: Well, I think the secretary has confused a lot of people. I don’t know how you’re there for the fight for $15 when you say you want a $12-an-hour national minimum wage.

(APPLAUSE)

Now, in fact — in fact, there is an effort, Patty Murray has introduced legislation for $12 minimum wage. That’s good. I introduced legislation for $15 an hour minimum wage which is better.

(APPLAUSE)

And ultimately what we have got to determine is after massive transfer of wealth from the middle class to the top 0.1 percent, when millions of our people are working longer hours for low wages…

BLITZER: Thank you, Senator.

SANDERS: I think we have got to be clear, not equivocate, $15 in minimum wage in 50 states in this country as soon as possible.

BLITZER: Thank you.

(APPLAUSE)

We’re going to turn to another critically important issue right now, guns in America. Secretary Clinton, you’ve said that Vermont, Senator Sanders’ home state, has, quote, “the highest per capita number of guns that end up committing crimes in New York.” But only 1.2 percent of the guns recovered in New York in 2014 were from Vermont. Are you seriously blaming Vermont, and implicitly Senator Sanders, for New York’s gun violence?

CLINTON: No, of course not. Of course not. This is — this is a serious difference between us.

(LAUGHTER)

And what I want to start by saying — it’s not a laughing matter — 90 people on average a day are killed or commit suicide or die in accidents from guns, 33,000 people a year. I take it really seriously, because I have spent more time than I care to remember being with people who have lost their loved ones.

So, yes, we have a problem in America. We need a president who will stand up against the gun lobby. We need a president who will fight for commonsense gun safety reforms.

(APPLAUSE)

And what we have here is a big difference. Senator Sanders voted against the Brady Bill five times. He voted for the most important NRA priority, namely giving immunity from liability to gun-makers and dealers, something that is at the root of a lot of the problems that we are facing.

Then he doubled down on that in the New York Daily News interview, when asked whether he would support the Sandy Hook parents suing to try to do something to rein in the advertising of the AR-15, which is advertised to young people as being a combat weapon, killing on the battlefield. He said they didn’t deserve their day in court.

CLINTON: I could not disagree more.

And, finally, this is the only industry in America, the only one.

(APPLAUSE)

CLINTON: That has this kind of special protection. We hear a lot from Senator Sanders about the greed and recklessness of Wall Street, and I agree. We’ve got to hold Wall Street accountable…

BLITZER: … Thank you…

CLINTON: … Well, what about the greed and recklessness of gun manufacturers and dealers in America?

(APPLAUSE) (CHEERING)

BLITZER: Senator? Well, the only problem is, Wolf, she didn’t answer your question.

You asked her whether she thought that Vermont was responsible. You asked her whether she thought that Vermont was responsible for a lot of the gun violence. You made the point what she said was totally absurd.

BLITZER: I asked her, are you seriously blaming Vermont and implicitly Senator Sanders for New York’s gun violence. She said no. But, go ahead.

SANDERS: Then why did she put out that statement?

CLINTON: I put it out…

SANDERS: … Excuse me, I think I’m responding now.

BLITZER: Please, go ahead sir.

SANDERS: A statement that was refuted by the governor of the state of Vermont, who was a supporter of hers, who said, yeah, in campaigns people tend to exaggerate.
News Clips: Politics By CNN 2:34
Highlights From the Democratic Debate
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Highlights From the Democratic Debate

Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton met in the Democratic presidential debate Thursday night in New York, where each has a major history. By CNN on Publish Date April 14, 2016. Photo by Chang W. Lee/The New York Times. Watch in Times Video »

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Here is the fact on guns. Let’s talk about guns. That horrible, horrible Sandy Hook — what’s the word we want to use, murder, assault, slaughter, unspeakable act.

Back in 1988, I ran for the United States Congress one seat in the state of Vermont. I probably lost that election, which I lost by three points, because I was the only candidate running who said, you know what? We should ban assault weapons, not seen them sold or distributed in the United States of America.

I’ve got a D-minus voting record from the NRA.

(APPLAUSE)

And, in fact, because I come from a state which has virtually no gun control, I believe that I am the best qualified candidate to bring back together that consensus that is desperately needed in this country.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Thank you, Senator. Thank you.

(CHEERING)

BLITZER: Secretary Clinton, I want you to respond to that, but why did you put out that statement blaming Vermont and its gun policy for some of the death of — by guns in New York?

CLINTON: Well, the facts are that most of the guns that end up committing crimes in New York come from out of state. They come from the states that don’t have kind of serious efforts to control guns that we do in New York.

But let me say this — in 1988, as we’ve heard on every debate occasion, Senator Sanders did run for the Congress and he lost. He came back in 1990 and he won, and during that campaign he made a commitment to the NRA that he would be against waiting periods.

And, in fact, in his own book, he talks about his 1990 campaign, and here’s what he said. He clearly was helped by the NRA, because they ran ads against his opponent. So, then he went to the Congress, where he has been a largely very reliable supporter of the NRA. Voting — he kept his word to the NRA, he voted against the Brady Bill five times because it had waiting periods in it.

Thankfully, enough people finally voted for it to keep guns out of the hands of who should not have them.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Senator, I want you to respond, but I also want you to respond to this. You recently said you do not think crime victims should be able to sue gun makers for damages. The daughter of the Sandy Hook Elementary School who was killed back in the 2012 mass shooting, says you owe her and families an apology. Do you?

SANDERS: What we need to do is to do everything that we can to make certain that guns do not fall into the hands of people who do not have them.

Now, I voted against this gun liability law because I was concerned that in rural areas all over this country, if a gun shop owner sells a weapon legally to somebody, and that person then goes out and kills somebody, I don’t believe it is appropriate that that gun shop owner who just sold a legal weapon to be held accountable and be sued.

But, what I do believe is when gun shop owners and others knowingly are selling weapons to people who should not have them — somebody walks in.SANDERS: They want thousands of rounds of ammunition, or they want a whole lot of guns, yes, that gun shop owner or that gun manufacturer should be held liable.

BLITZER: So, Senator, do you owe the Sandy Hook families an apology?

SANDERS: No, I don’t think I owe them an apology. They are in court today, and actually they won a preliminary decision today. They have the right to sue, and I support them and anyone else who wants the right to sue.

CLINTON: Well, I believe that the law that Senator Sanders voted for that I voted against, giving this special protection to gun manufacturers and to dealers, is an absolute abdication of responsibility on the part of those who voted for it.

This is a — this is a unique gift given to only one industry in the world by the United States Congress, as Senator Murphy from Connecticut said, we have tougher standards holding toy gun manufacturers and sellers to account than we do for real guns.

And the point that Senator Sanders keeps making about how he wouldn’t want a mom and pop store — that was not the point of this. And if he can point to any, any incident where that happened, I would love to hear about it.

What was really going on, I’ll tell you, because it has a lot to do with New York City. New York City was on the brink of being able to hold manufacturers and dealers accountable through a very carefully crafted legal strategy.

BLITZER: Thank you.

CLINTON: The NRA came to their supporters in the Congress and said, stop it, stop it now, and Senator Sanders joined those who did.

BLITZER: Thank you, Secretary.

Senator, go ahead.

SANDERS: Let me just reiterate — just reiterate so there is no confusion, decades ago, before it was popular, in a rural state with no gun control, Bernie Sanders said, let’s ban assault weapons, not see them distributed in the United States of America.

BLITZER: Thank you, Senator.

Let’s turn it over to Errol Lewis, of New York 1 Time Warner Cable News.

LOUIS: Secretary Clinton, the 1994 crime bill that you supported added 100,000 police officers across the country and banned certain assault weapons. It also imposed tougher prison sentences and eliminated federal funding for inmate education.

Looking at the bill as a whole, do you believe it was a net positive or do you think it was a mistake?

CLINTON: Well, I think that it had some positive aspects to it. And you mentioned some of them. The Violence Against Women Act, which has been a very important piece of legislation, in my opinion.

(APPLAUSE)

CLINTON: And it also did some things which were to provide more opportunities for young people. So if we were to have the balance sheet on one side, there are some positive actions and changes.

On the other side, there were decisions that were made that now we must revisit and we have to correct. I think that sentences got much too long. The original idea was not that we would increase sentences for non-violent low-level offenders, but once the federal government did what it did, states piled on.

So we have a problem. And the very first speech I gave in this campaign was about what I will do to reform the criminal justice system and end the over-mass incarceration.

So I think that if all of us go and look back at where we were, Senator Sanders voted for the crime bill, and he says the same thing, there were some good things, and things that we have to change and learn from.

So that’s how I see it. And I think we ought to be putting our attention on forging a consensus to make the changes that will divert more people from the criminal justice system to start.

LOUIS: Thank you, Secretary.

CLINTON: To tackle systemic racism and divert people in the beginning.

LOUIS: Now earlier this year, a South Carolina voter told your daughter Chelsea, quote, “I think a lot of African-Americans want to hear, you know what, we made a mistake.” Chelsea said she has heard you apologize, but went on to say that if the voter hadn’t heard it then, quote, “it’s clearly insufficient.”

Do you regret your advocacy for the crime bill?

CLINTON: Well, look, I supported the crime bill. My husband has apologized. He was the president who actually signed it, Senator Sanders…

LOUIS: But what about you, Senator?

CLINTON: … voted for it. I’m sorry for the consequences that were unintended and that have had a very unfortunate impact on people’s lives.

I’ve seen the results of what has happened in families and in communities.

CLINTON: That’s why I chose to make my very first speech a year ago on this issue, Errol, because I want to focus the attention of our country and to make the changes we need to make. And I also want people…

(APPLAUSE)

… especially I want — I want white people — I want white people to recognize that there is systemic racism. It’s also in employment, it’s in housing, but it is in the criminal justice system, as well.

(APPLAUSE)

LOUIS: Senator Sanders, earlier this week at the Apollo Theater in Harlem, you called out President Clinton for defending Secretary Clinton’s use of the term super-predator back in the ’90s when she supported the crime bill. Why did you call him out?

SANDERS: Because it was a racist term, and everybody knew it was a racist term.

(APPLAUSE)

Look, much of what Secretary Clinton said was right. We had a crime bill. I voted for it. It had the Violence Against Women Act in it. When as mayor of Burlington, we worked very hard to try to eliminate domestic violence. This took us a good step forward. We’re talking about the weapon that killed the children in Sandy Hook. This banned assault weapons, not insignificant.

But where we are today is we have a broken criminal justice system. We have more people in jail than any other country on Earth. And in my view, what we have got to do is rethink the system from the bottom on up. And that means, for a start — and we don’t talk about this. The media doesn’t talk about it — you got 51 percent of African-American kids today who graduated high school who are unemployed or underemployed. You know what I think? Maybe we invest in jobs and education for those kids, not jails and incarceration.

(APPLAUSE)

And I’ll tell you what else. And I’ll tell you what else I think. And that is, we have got — and this is the difference between the secretary and myself as I understand it. We have got to have the guts to rethink the so-called war on drugs. Too many lives… BLITZER: Thank you, Senator.

SANDERS: Too many lives have been destroyed because people possessed marijuana, millions over a 30-year period. And that is why I believe we should take marijuana out of the federal Controlled Substance Act.

(APPLAUSE)

LOUIS: Thank you. Thank you. Let’s — let’s get Secretary Clinton’s response.

CLINTON: Well, look, I think that, as Senator Sanders said about what I said, I will say about what he said. I think that we recognize that we have a set of problems that we cannot ignore and we must address. And that is why I have been promoting for my entire adult life, I think, the idea of investing early in kids, early childhood education, universal pre-K, like what Mayor de Blasio brought to New York. We have got to help more kids get off to a good start. That’s why I want a good teacher in a good school for every child, regardless of the ZIP Code that child lives in…

LOUIS: Thank you. Thank you, Secretary Clinton.

(APPLAUSE)

CLINTON: … and to be really focused on how we build ladders of opportunity and tear down these barriers that stand in the way of people getting ahead.

LOUIS: Your time’s up, Secretary Clinton.

Senator Sanders, I have a question for you related to this. So you’ve said that by the end of your first term as president, the U.S. will no longer lead the world in mass incarceration. To fulfill that promise, you’d have to release roughly half a million prisoners. How are you going to do that, since the vast majority of American prisoners are not under federal jurisdiction?

SANDERS: We’re going to work with state governments all over this country. And you know what? In a very divided Congress, and a very divided politics in America, actually the one area where there is some common ground is conservatives understand that it’s insane to be spending $80 billion a year locking up 2.2 million people.

With federal and presidential leadership, we will work with state governments to make sure that people are released from jail under strong supervision, that they get the kind of job training and education they need so they can return to their communities. On this one, Errol, actually I think you’re going to see progressive and conservative support. We can do it, if we’re prepared to be bold.

BLITZER: Thank you, Senator. Thank you, Secretary. We have to take a quick commercial break. We have a lot more questions for Secretary Clinton and Senator Sanders right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Welcome back.

Let’s turn to another critically important issue.

Senator, Secretary, the issue of energy and the environment.

Secretary Clinton, Senator Sanders has said you are in the pocket of the fossil fuel industry. You say you’re sick and tired of him lying about your record.

What are his lies?

CLINTON: Well, let me start by saying we need to talk about this issue and we should talk about it in terms of the extraordinary threats that climate change pose to our country and our world. And that’s why for the last many years, both in the Senate and as secretary of State, it’s been a big part of my commitment to see what could be done.

But there has never been any doubt that when I was a senator, I tried — I joined with others to try to get rid of the subsidies for big oil. And I have proposed that again, because that’s what I think needs to be done as we transition from fossil fuels to clean energy.

CLINTON: And everyone who’s looked at this independently, “The Washington Post” and others, who give us both hard times when called for on facts, have said that this is absolutely an incorrect false charge.

So, we both have relatively small amounts of contributions from people who work for fossil fuel companies. Best we can tell from the reports that are done.

But, that is not being supported by big oil, and I think it’s important to distinguish that. And, let’s talk about what each of us has proposed to try to combat greenhouse gas emissions and put us on the fastest track possible to clean energy.

BLITZER: Thank you. We’re going to get to that to, but I want you to respond, Senator.

SANDERS: It is one thing, as the Secretary indicated, to talk about workers. I’m sure I have contributions, you have contributions from workers in every industry in the country. But, as I understand it, 43 lobbyists for the fossil fuel industry maxed out, gave the maximum amount of money to Secretary Clinton’s campaign.

(APPLAUSE)

SANDERS: Now, that’s not saying — and, then some people say, well, given the hundreds of millions of dollars she raises it’s a small amount. That’s true. But, that does not mean to say that the lobbyists thought she was a pretty good bet on this issue.

Now, what I think is when we look at climate change now, we have got to realize that this is a global environmental crisis of unprecedented urgency.

(APPLAUSE) (CHEERING)

And, it is not good enough. You know, if we, God forbid, were attacked tomorrow the whole country would rise up and say we got an enemy out there and we got to do something about it. That was what 9/11 was about.

We have an enemy out there, and that enemy is going to cause drought and floods and extreme weather disturbances. There’s going to be international conflict.

(APPLAUSE) I am proud, Wolf, that I have introduced the most comprehensive climate change legislation…

BLITZER: …. Thank you…

SANDERS: … Including a tax on carbon. Something I don’t believe Secretary Clinton supports.

(APPLAUSE) (CHEERING)

BLITZER: Secretary Clinton, go ahead and respond.

CLINTON: Well, let’s talk about the global environmental crisis. Starting in 2009 as your Secretary of State, I worked with President Obama to bring China and India to the table for the very first time, to get a commitment out of them that they would begin to address their own greenhouse gas emissions.

(APPLAUSE)

I continued to work on that throughout the four years as Secretary of State, and I was very proud that President Obama and America led the way to the agreement that was finally reached in Paris with 195 nations committing to take steps to actually make a difference in climate change.

(APPLAUSE)

And, I was surprised and disappointed when Senator Sanders attacked the agreement, said it was not enough, it didn’t go far enough. You know, at some point putting together 195 countries, I know a little bit about that, was a major accomplishment…

BLITZER: … Thank you…

(APPLAUSE CHEERING)

CLINTON: … And, our President led the effort to protect our world and he deserve our appreciation, not our criticism…

BLITZER: … Go ahead, Senator…

SANDERS: … Let’s talk about that. When you were Secretary of State, you also worked hard to expand fracking to countries all over the world.

(CHEERING)

SANDERS: The issue here — of course the agreement is a step forward, but you know agreements and I know agreements, there’s a lot of paper there. We’ve got to get beyond paper right now.

We have got to lead the world in transforming our energy system, not tomorrow, but yesterday.

(APPLAUSE) And, what that means, Wolf, it means having the guts to take on the fossil fuel industry. Now, I am on board legislation that says, you know what, we ain’t going to excavate for fossil fuel on public land. That’s not Secretary Clinton’s position.

BLITZER: Thank you.

Let us support a tax on carbon…

BLITZER: … Secretary Clinton…

SANDERS: … Not Secretary Clinton’s position.

BLITZER: … Go ahead and respond.

(APPLAUSE)

CLINTON: Well, I’m a little bewildered about how to respond when you have an agreement which gives you the framework to actually take the action that would have only come about because under the Obama administration in the face of implacable hostility from the Republicans in Congress, President Obama moved forward on gas mileage, he moved forward on the clean power plant. He has moved forward on so many of the fronts that he could given the executive actions that he was able to take.

(APPLAUSE)

And, you know, I am getting a little bit — I’m getting a little bit concerned here because, you know, I really believe that the President has done an incredible job against great odds and deserves to be supported.

(APPLAUSE) (CHEERING)

CLINTON: Now, it’s easy — it’s easy to diagnose the problem. It’s harder to do something about the problem. And…

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Thank you, Secretary. We’ll continue on this. Errol — Errol Louis, go ahead with your question.

SANDERS: Wolf. Wolf.

BLITZER: We’re going to continue on this. Errol, go ahead.

LOUIS: OK. Secretary Clinton, as secretary of state, you also pioneered a program to promote fracking around the world, as you described. Fracking, of course, a way of extracting natural gas. Now as a candidate for president, you say that by the time you’re done with all your rules and regulations, fracking will be restricted in many places around the country. Why have you changed your view on fracking?

CLINTON: No, well, I don’t think I’ve changed my view on what we need to do to go from where we are, where the world is heavily dependent on coal and oil, but principally coal, to where we need to be, which is clean renewable energy, and one of the bridge fuels is natural gas.

And so for both economic and environmental and strategic reasons, it was American policy to try to help countries get out from under the constant use of coal, building coal plants all the time, also to get out from under, especially if they were in Europe, the pressure from Russia, which has been incredibly intense. So we did say natural gas is a bridge. We want to cross that bridge as quickly as possible, because in order to deal with climate change, we have got to move as rapidly as we can.

That’s why I’ve set big goals. I want to see us deploy a half a billion more solar panels by the end of my first term and enough clean energy to provide electricity to every home in America within 10 years.

(APPLAUSE)

So I have big, bold goals, but I know in order to get from where we are, where the world is still burning way too much coal, where the world is still too intimidated by countries and providers like Russia, we have got to make a very firm but decisive move in the direction of clean energy.

LOUIS: Thank you, Secretary. All right, Senator?

SANDERS: All right, here is — here is a real difference. This is a difference between understanding that we have a crisis of historical consequence here, and incrementalism and those little steps are not enough.

(APPLAUSE)

Not right now. Not on climate change. Now, the truth is, as secretary of state, Secretary Clinton actively supported fracking technology around the world. Second of all, right now, we have got to tell the fossil fuel industry that their short-term profits are not more important than the future of this planet.

(APPLAUSE)

And that means — and I would ask you to respond. Are you in favor of a tax on carbon so that we can transit away from fossil fuel to energy efficiency and sustainable energy at the level and speed we need to do?

(APPLAUSE)

CLINTON: You know, I have laid out a set of actions that build on what President Obama was able to accomplish, building on the clean power plan, which is currently under attack by fossil fuels and the right in the Supreme Court, which is one of the reasons why we need to get the Supreme Court justice that President Obama has nominated to be confirmed so that we can actually continue to make progress.

I don’t take a back seat to your legislation that you’ve introduced that you haven’t been able to get passed. I want to do what we can do to actually make progress in dealing with the crisis. That’s exactly what I have proposed.

LOUIS: OK, thank you, Secretary Clinton.

CLINTON: And my approach I think is going to get us there faster without tying us up into political knots with a Congress that still would not support what you are proposing.

(CROSSTALK)

LOUIS: Senator Sanders, you’ve said that climate change is the greatest change to our nation’s security.

SANDERS: Secretary Clinton did not answer one simple question.

LOUIS: Excuse me, Senator, Senator, Senator, Senator, Senator…

SANDERS: Are you for a tax on carbon or not? LOUIS: I have a question for you. You’ve said that climate change is the greatest threat to our nation’s security. You’ve called for a nationwide ban on fracking. You’ve also called for phasing out all nuclear power in the U.S. But wouldn’t those proposals drive the country back to coal and oil, and actually undermine your fight against global warming?

SANDERS: No, they wouldn’t. Look, here’s where we are. Let me reiterate. We have a global crisis. Pope Francis reminded us that we are on a suicide course. Our legislation understands, Errol, that there will be economic dislocation. It is absolutely true. There will be some people who lose their job. And we build into our legislation an enormous amount of money to protect those workers. It is not their fault…

SANDERS: It is not their fault that fossil fuels are destroying our climate.

But we have got to stand up and say right now, as we would if we were attacked by some military force, we have got to move urgency — urgently and boldly.

What does that mean?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Senator — senator, jobs…

SANDERS: Yes?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: — jobs are one thing, but with less than 6 percent of all U.S. energy coming from solar, wind and geothermal, and 20 percent of U.S. power coming from nuclear, if you phase out all of that, how do you make up…

SANDERS: Well, you don’t phase…

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: — that difference?

SANDERS: — it all out tomorrow. And you certainly don’t phase nuclear out tomorrow. But this is what you do do.

(APPLAUSE)

SANDERS: What you do do is say that we are going to have a massive program — and I had introduced — introduced legislation for 10 million solar rooftops. We can put probably millions of people to work retrofitting and weatherizing buildings all over this country.

(CHEERING)

SANDERS: Saving — rebuilding our rail system.

(APPLAUSE)

SANDERS: Our mass transit system.

(APPLAUSE)

SANDERS: If we approach this, Errol, as if we were literally at a war — you know, in 1941, under Franklin Delano Roosevelt, we moved within three years, within three more years to rebuild our economy to defeat Nazism and Japanese imperialism. That is exactly the kind of approach we need right now.

BLITZER: Thank you.

(APPLAUSE)

SANDERS: Lead the world.

BLITZER: Thank you, Senator.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Let’s turn to another critically important issue…

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: — the issue of national security and foreign policy.

Secretary Clinton, President Obama says the worst mistake in office that he made over these past seven and a half years was not preparing for Libya after Moammar Qadafi was removed. You were his secretary of State.

Aren’t you also responsible for that?

CLINTON: Well, let me say I think we did a great deal to help the Libyan people after Qadafi’s demise. And here’s what we did.

We helped them hold two successful elections, something that is not easy, which they did very well because they had a pent up desire to try to chart their own future after 42 years of dictatorship.

I was very proud of that.

We got rid of the chemical weapons stockpile that Qadafi had, getting it out of Libya, getting it away from militias or terrorist groups.

We also worked to help them set up their government. We sent a lot of American experts there. We offered to help them secure their borders, to train a new military.

They, at the end, when it came to security issues, Wolf, did not want troops from any other country, not just us, European or other countries, in Libya.

And so we were caught in a very difficult position. They could not provide security on their own, which we could see and we told them that, but they didn’t want to have others helping to provide that security.

And the result has been a clash between different parts of the country, terrorists taking up some locations in the country.

And we can’t walk away from that. We need to be working with European and Arab partners…

BLITZER: Thank you.

CLINTON: — with the United Nations in order to continue to try to support them.

The Libyan people deserve a chance at democracy and self- government. And I, as president, will keep trying to give that to them

BLITZER: Senator, go ahead.

SANDERS: According to “The New York Times.”..

(APPLAUSE)

SANDERS: — for President Obama, this was a pretty tough call, like a 51-49 call, do you overthrow Qadafi, who, of course, was a horrific dictator?

“The New York Times” told us it was Secretary Clinton who led the effect for that regime change. And this is the same type of mentality that supported the war in Iraq.

(APPLAUSE)

SANDERS: Look…

(APPLAUSE)

SANDERS: — Qadafi, Saddam Hussein are brutal, brutal murdering thugs. No debate about that.

But what we have got to do and what the president was saying is we didn’t think thoroughly about what happens the day after you get rid of these dictators.

Regime change often has unintended consequences in Iraq and in Libya right now, where ISIS has a very dangerous foothold. And I think if you studied the whole history of…

BLITZER: Yes.

SANDERS: — American involvement in regime change, you see that quite often.

BLITZER: Secretary, we’re going to let you respond.

(APPLAUSE)

CLINTON: Yes, well, I…

(APPLAUSE)

CLINTON: — I…

(APPLAUSE)

CLINTON: — I — I would just point out that there was a vote in the Senate as to whether or not the United States should support the efforts by the Libyan people to protect themselves against the threats, the genocidal threats coming from Gadhafi, and whether we should go to the United Nations to seek Security Council support.

Senator sanders voted for that, and that’s exactly what we did.

SANDERS: No.

(CROSSTALK)

CLINTON: We went to the United Nations — yes, he did. We went to the United Nations Security Council. We got support from the Security Council. And we then supported the efforts of our European and Arab allies and partners.

This was a request made to our government by the Europeans and by the Arabs because of their great fear of what chaos in Syria would do to them. And if you want to know what chaos does, not just to the people inside but the people on the borders, look at Syria.

Nobody stood up to Assad and removed him, and we have had a far greater disaster in Syria than we are currently dealing with right now in Libya.

(APPLAUSE)

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: Senator, go ahead.

SANDERS: Secretary Clinton made this charge in previous debates and just repeating it doesn’t make it truer. What you are talking about is what I think was what they call the unanimous consent, you know what that is, where basically, do we support Libya moving to democracy?

Well, you know what, I surely have always supported Libya moving to democracy. But please do not confuse that with your active effort for regime change without contemplating what happened the day after. Totally different issue.

CLINTON: Well, that isn’t…

SANDERS: Second of all — second of all, if I might, in terms of Syria, in terms of Syria…

BLITZER: Senator, let her respond to that, then we’ll get to that.

Go ahead, Secretary.

CLINTON: There was also in that a reference to the Security Council, and I know you’re not shy when you oppose something, Senator. So, yes, it was unanimous. That’s exactly right, including you.

And what we did was to try to provide support for our European and Arab allies and partners. The decision was the president’s. Did I do the due diligence? Did I talk to everybody I could talk to? Did I visit every capital and then report back to the president? Yes, I did. That’s what a secretary of state does.

But at the end of the day, those are the decisions that are made by the president to in any way use American military power. And the president made that decision. And, yes, we did try without success because of the Libyans’ obstruction to our efforts, but we did try and we will continue to try to help the Libyan people.

BLITZER: Thank you, Secretary.

Go ahead, Senator.

SANDERS: If you listen, you know — two points. Number one, yes, 100-0 in the Senate voted for democracy in Libya and I would vote for that again. But that is very different from getting actively involved to overthrow and bring about regime change without fully understanding what the consequence of that regime change would be.

Second of all, I know you keep referring to Barack Obama all night here, but you in Syria, you in Syria talked about a no-fly zone, which the president certainly does not support, nor do I support because, A, it will cost an enormous sum of money, second of all, it runs the risk of getting us sucked into perpetual warfare in that region.

Thirdly, when we talk about Syria right now, no debate, like Gadhafi, like Saddam Hussein, Assad is another brutal murdering dictator, but right now our fight is to destroy ISIS first, and to get rid of Assad second.

CLINTON: Well, I think Senator Sanders has just reinforced my point. Yes, when I was secretary of state I did urge, along with the Department of Defense and the CIA that we seek out, vet, and train, and arm Syrian opposition figures so that they could defend themselves against Assad.

The president said no. Now, that’s how it works. People who work for the president make recommendations and then the president makes the decision. So I think it’s only fair to look at where we are in Syria today.

And, yes, I do still support a no-fly zone because I think we need to put in safe havens for those poor Syrians who are fleeing both Assad and ISIS and have some place that they can be safe.

BLITZER: Staying on national security, Dana Bash has a question.

BASH: Senator Sanders, in 1997, you said this about NATO, you said, quote: “It is not the time to continue wasting tens of billions of dollars helping to defend Europe, let alone assuming more than our share of any cost associated with expanding NATO.”

Do you still feel that way?

SANDERS: Well, what I believe, if my memory is correct here, we spend about 75 percent of the entire cost of the military aspect of NATO. Given the fact that France has a very good health care system and free public education, college education for their people, the U.K. has a good National Health Service and they also provide fairly reasonable higher education, you know what, yeah, I do believe that the countries of Europe should pick up more of the burden for their defense. Yes, I do.

(APPLAUSE)

BASH: And just following up, Senator Sanders, Donald Trump also argues that NATO is unfair economically to the U.S. because America pays a disproportionate share. So how is what you say about NATO and your proposal different than his?

SANDERS: Well, you got to ask — you got to ask Trump. All I can tell you is, with a huge deficit, with 47 million people living in poverty, with our inner cities collapsing, yeah, I do think countries like Germany and U.K. and France and European countries whose economy, or at least its standard of living and health care and education, they’re doing pretty well.

So I would not be embarrassed as president of the United States to stay to our European allies, you know what, the United States of America cannot just support your economies. You got to put up your own fair share of the defense burden. Nothing wrong with that.

(APPLAUSE)

BASH: Secretary Clinton?

CLINTON: I support our continuing involvement in NATO. And it is important to ask for our NATO allies to pay more of the cost. There is a requirement that they should be doing so, and I believe that needs to be enforced.

But there’s a larger question here. NATO has been the most successful military alliance in probably human history. It has bound together across the Atlantic countries that are democracies, that have many of the same values and interests, and now we need to modernize it and move it into the 21st century to serve as that head of our defense operations in Europe when it comes to terrorism and other threats that we face. So…

BASH: But, Madam Secretary… CLINTON: … yes, of course they should be paying more, but that doesn’t mean if they don’t we leave, because I don’t think that’s in America’s interests.

BASH: That’s going to be part of my — my question to you is, to that point, there are 28 countries in the alliance, and the United States gives more money to NATO’s budget than 21 of those countries combined. If they don’t agree to pay more, as you suggested, then what would you do as commander-in-chief?

CLINTON: I will stay in NATO. I will stay in NATO, and we will continue to look for missions and other kinds of programs that they will support. Remember, NATO was with us in Afghanistan. Most of the member countries also lost soldiers and civilians in Afghanistan. They came to our rallying defense after 9/11. That meant a lot.

And, yes, we have to work out the financial aspects of it, but let’s not forget what’s really happening. With Russia being more aggressive, making all kinds of intimidating moves toward the Baltic countries, we’ve seen what they’ve done in Eastern Ukraine, we know how they want to rewrite the map of Europe, it is not in our interests. Think of how much it would cost if Russia’s aggression were not deterred because NATO was there on the front lines making it clear they could not move forward.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Thank you, Secretary.

Senator, let’s talk about the U.S. relationship with Israel. Senator Sanders, you maintained that Israel’s response in Gaza in 2014 was, quote, “disproportionate and led to the unnecessary loss of innocent life.”

(APPLAUSE)

What do you say to those who believe that Israel has a right to defend itself as it sees fit?

SANDERS: Well, as somebody who spent many months of my life when I was a kid in Israel, who has family in Israel, of course Israel has a right not only to defend themselves, but to live in peace and security without fear of terrorist attack. That is not a debate.

(APPLAUSE)

But — but what you just read, yeah, I do believe that. Israel was subjected to terrorist attacks, has every right in the world to destroy terrorism. But we had in the Gaza area — not a very large area — some 10,000 civilians who were wounded and some 1,500 who were killed.

AUDIENCE MEMBER: Free Palestine!

SANDERS: Now, if you’re asking not just me, but countries all over the world was that a disproportionate attack, the answer is that I believe it was, and let me say something else.

(APPLAUSE) (CHEERING)

SANDERS: And, let me say something else. As somebody who is 100% pro-Israel, in the long run — and this is not going to be easy, God only knows, but in the long run if we are ever going to bring peace to that region which has seen so much hatred and so much war, we are going to have to treat the Palestinian people with respect and dignity.

(APPLAUSE) (CHEERING)

SANDERS: So what is not to say — to say that right now in Gaza, right now in Gaza unemployment is s somewhere around 40%. You got a log of that area continues, it hasn’t been built, decimated, houses decimated health care decimated, schools decimated. I believe the United States and the rest of the world have got to work together to help the Palestinian people.

That does not make me anti-Israel. That paves the way, I think…

BLITZER: … Thank you, Senator…

SANDERS: …to an approach that works in the Middle East.

(APPLAUSE) (CHEERING)

BLITZER: Thank you. Secretary Clinton, do you agree with Senator Sanders that Israel overreacts to Palestinians attacks, and that in order for there to be peace between Israel and the Palestinians, Israel must, quote, end its disproportionate responses?
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CLINTON: I negotiated the cease-fire between Israel and Hamas in November of 2012. I did it in concert with…

(APPLAUSE)

CLINTON: President Abbas of the Palestinian authority based in Ramallah, I did it with the then Muslim Brotherhood President, Morsi, based in Cairo, working closely with Prime Minister Netanyahu and the Israeli cabinet. I can tell you right now I have been there with Israeli officials going back more than 25 years that they do not seek this kind of attacks. They do not invite the rockets raining down on their towns and villages.

(APPLAUSE)

They do not believe that there should be a constant incitement by Hamas aided and abetted by Iran against Israel. And, so when it came time after they had taken the incoming rockets, taken the assaults and ambushes on their soldiers and they called and told me, I was in Cambodia, that they were getting ready to have to invade Gaza again because they couldn’t find anybody to talk to tell them to stop it, I flew all night, I got there, I negotiated that.

So, I don’t know how you run a country when you are under constant threat, terrorist tact, rockets coming at you. You have a right to defend yourself.

(APPLAUSE)

That does not mean — that does not mean that you don’t take appropriate precautions. And, I understand that there’s always second guessing anytime there is a war. It also does not mean that we should not continue to do everything we can to try to reach a two-state solution, which would give the Palestinians the rights and…

BLITZER: … Thank you…

CLINTON: … just let me finish. The rights and the autonomy that they deserve. And, let me say this, if Yasser Arafat had agreed with my husband at Camp David in the Late 1990s to the offer then Prime Minister Barat put on the table, we would have had a Palestinian state for 15 years.

(APPLAUSE) (CHEERING)

BLITZER: Thank you, Senator, go ahead — go ahead, Senator.

SANDERS: I don’t think that anybody would suggest that Israel invites and welcomes missiles flying into their country. That is not the issue.

And, you evaded the answer. You evaded the question. The question is not does Israel have a right to respond, nor does Israel have a right to go after terrorists and destroy terrorism. That’s not the debate. Was their response disproportionate?

I believe that it was, you have not answered that.

(CHEERING)

CLINTON: I will certainly be willing to answer it. I think I did answer it by saying that of course there have to be precautions taken but even the most independent analyst will say the way that Hamas places its weapons, the way that it often has its fighters in civilian garb, it is terrible.

(AUDIENCE REACTION)

I’m not saying it’s anything other than terrible. It would be great — remember, Israel left Gaza. They took out all the Israelis. They turned the keys over to the Palestinian people.

CLINTON: And what happened? Hamas took over Gaza.

So instead of having a thriving economy with the kind of opportunities that the children of the Palestinians deserve, we have a terrorist haven that is getting more and more rockets shipped in from Iran and elsewhere.

BLITZER: Thank you, Secretary.

Senator.

SANDERS: I read Secretary Clinton’s statement speech before AIPAC. I heard virtually no discussion at all about the needs of the Palestinian people. Almost none in that speech.

(APPLAUSE)

SANDERS: So here is the issue: of course Israel has a right to defend itself, but long term there will never be peace in that region unless the United States plays a role, an even-handed role trying to bring people together and recognizing the serious problems that exist among the Palestinian people.

That is what I believe the world wants to us do and that’s the kind of leadership that we have got to exercise.

CLINTON: Well, if I — I want to add, you know, again describing the problem is a lot easier than trying to solve it. And I have been involved, both as first lady with my husband’s efforts, as a senator supporting the efforts that even the Bush administration was undertaking, and as secretary of state for President Obama, I’m the person who held the last three meetings between the president of the Palestinian Authority and the prime minister of Israel.

There were only four of us in the room, Netanyahu, Abbas, George Mitchell, and me. Three long meetings. And I was absolutely focused on what was fair and right for the Palestinians.

I was absolutely focused on what we needed to do to make sure that the Palestinian people had the right to self-government. And I believe that as president I will be able to continue to make progress and get an agreement that will be fair both to the Israelis and the Palestinians without ever, ever undermining Israel’s security.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: A final word, Senator, go ahead.

SANDERS: There comes a time — there comes a time when if we pursue justice and peace, we are going to have to say that Netanyahu is not right all of the time.

(APPLAUSE)

CLINTON: Well…

BLITZER: Secretary.

CLINTON: … you know, I have spoken about and written at some length the very candid conversations I’ve had with him and other Israeli leaders. Nobody is saying that any individual leader is always right, but it is a difficult position.

If you are from whatever perspective trying to seek peace, trying to create the conditions for peace when there is a terrorist group embedded in Gaza that does not want to see you exist, that is a very difficult challenge.

BLITZER: Senator, go ahead.

SANDERS: You gave a major speech to AIPAC, which obviously deals with the Middle East crisis, and you barely mentioned the Palestinians. And I think, again, it is a complicated issue and God knows for decades presidents, including President Clinton and others, Jimmy Carter and others have tried to do the right thing.

All that I am saying is we cannot continue to be one-sided. There are two sides to the issue.

BLITZER: Thank you, Senator. Thank you, Secretary.

We have to take another quick, quick break. But much more on the CNN Democratic presidential debate live from Brooklyn, New York. That is coming up right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Welcome back to the CNN presidential debate. We’re here in Brooklyn. Secretary, Senator, both of you talk about major reforms to college tuition, health care, and Social Security, all of which will take significant changes from Congress, currently controlled by Republicans.

Senator Sanders, you’re promising health care and free college for all, and those plans would be met with both political and practical challenges. The nonpartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget says your initiatives would cost up to $28 trillion and, even after massive tax increases, that would add as much as $15 trillion to the national debt. How is this fiscally responsible?

SANDERS: Well, first of all, I disagree with that study. There are many economists who come up with very, very different numbers.

For example, we are the only country, major country on Earth, that does not guarantee health care to all people, and yet we end up spending almost three times what the British do, 50 percent more than the French. My proposal, a Medicare-for-all, single-payer program, will save…

(APPLAUSE)

… will save middle-class families many thousands of dollars a year in their health care costs. Public colleges and universities tuition free? Damn right. That is exactly what we should be doing.

(APPLAUSE)

SANDERS: And I’d pay for that — I’d pay for that by telling Wall Street that, yeah, we are going to have a tax on Wall Street speculation, which will bring in more than enough money to provide free tuition at public colleges and universities and lower the outrageous level of student debt.

Wolf, we have seen in the last 30 years a massive transfer of wealth from the middle class to the top 0.1 percent. The establishment does not like this idea, but, yes, I am determined to transfer that money back to the working families of this country.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Thank you, Senator. Secretary, go ahead and respond.

CLINTON: Well, again — again, I absolutely agree with the diagnosis, the diagnosis that we’ve got to do much more to finish the work of getting universal health care coverage, something that I’ve worked on for 25 years. Before there was something called Obamacare, there was something called Hillarycare. And we’re now at 90 percent of coverage; I’m going to get us to 100 percent.

And with respect to college, I think we have to make college affordable. We are pricing out middle-class, working, and poor families. There’s no doubt about that.

But I do think when you make proposals and you’re running for president, you should be held accountable for whether or not the numbers add up and whether or not the plans…

(APPLAUSE)

… are actually going to work. And just very briefly, on health care, most of the people who have analyzed what Senator Sanders put out — remember, he had a plan for about, I don’t know, 18, 20 years. He changed in the middle of this campaign. He put out another plan. People have been analyzing the new plan. And there is no doubt by those who have analyzed it, progressive economists, health economists, and the like, that it would pose an incredible burden, not just on the budget, but on individuals. In fact, the Washington Post called it a train-wreck for the poor. A working woman on Medicaid who already has health insurance would be expected to pay about $2,300.

The same for free college. The free college offer — you know, my late father said, if somebody promises you something for free, read the fine print. You read the fine print, and here’s what it says.

BLITZER: Thank you, Secretary.

CLINTON: The fine print says this, that it will — the federal government will cover two-thirds of the cost and require the states, even those led by Republican governors…

BLITZER: Senator, go ahead. Thank you.

CLINTON: … to carry out what the remaining one-third of the cost.

SANDERS: I know what Secretary Clinton is saying.

BLITZER: Secretary please.

SANDERS: We are not a country that has the courage to stand up to big money and do what has to be done for the working families of the country.

(APPLAUSE)

Secretary Clinton will have to explain to the people of our country how it could be that every other major country on Earth manages to guarantee health care to all of their people, spending significantly less per capita than we can.

I live 50 miles away from Canada, you know? It’s not some kind of communist authoritarian country. They’re doing OK. They got a health care system that guarantees health care to all people. We can do the same.

In terms of public colleges and universities, please don’t tell me that we cannot do what many other countries around the world are doing. Kids should not be punished and leave school deeply in debt, for what crime? For trying to get an education.

BLITZER: Thank you, Senator.

SANDERS: So, yes, we are going to pay for it…

CLINTON: Well…

BLITZER: Secretary Clinton — Secretary Clinton, go ahead.

CLINTON: We have — we have a difference of opinion. We both want to get to universal health care coverage. I did stand up to the special interests and the powerful forces, the health insurance companies and the drug companies.

(APPLAUSE)

And perhaps that’s why I am so much in favor of supporting President Obama’s signature accomplishment with the Affordable Care Act, because I know how hard it was to get that passed, even with a Democratic Congress. So rather than letting the Republicans repeal it or rather starting all over again, trying to throw the country into another really contentious debate, let’s make the Affordable Care Act work for everybody…

BLITZER: Thank you, Secretary.

CLINTON: … let’s get to 100 percent coverage, let’s get the cost down, and let’s guarantee health care.

BLITZER: Secretary, let’s talk about Social Security, another critically important issue. Senator Sanders has challenged you to give a clear answer when it comes to extending the life of Social Security and expanding benefits. Are you prepared to lift the cap on taxable income, which currently stands at $118,500? Yes or no, would you lift the cap?

CLINTON: I have said repeatedly, Wolf, I am going to make the wealthy pay into Social Security to extend the Social Security Trust Fund. That is one way. If that is the way that we pursue, I will follow that.

CLINTON: But there are other ways. We should be looking at taxing passive income by wealthy people. We should be looking at taxing all of their investment.

But here’s the real issue, because I — I’ve heard this, I’ve seen the reports of it. I have said from the very beginning, we are going to protect Social Security. I was one of the leaders in the fight against Bush when he was trying to privatize Social Security.

But we also, in addition to extending the Trust Fund, which I am absolutely determined to do, we’ve got to help people who are not being taken care of now. And because Social Security started in the 1930s, a lot of women have been left out and left behind.

And it’s time that we provide more benefits for widows, divorcees, for caregivers, for women who deserve more from the Social Security…

BLITZER: Thank you, Secretary.

CLINTON: — system and that will be my highest priority.

BLITZER: Senator?

Go ahead, Senator.

(APPLAUSE)

SANDERS: An interesting comment, but you didn’t answer the question.

CLINTON: I did. If that’s the way we’re…

SANDERS: No, you didn’t. My legi…

CLINTON: — yes, I did.

SANDERS: Can I answer…

CLINTON: I did answer the…

SANDERS: — may I please…

CLINTON: Well, don’t — don’t put words…

SANDERS: — can I have… (CROSSTALK)

CLINTON: — into my mouth and say something…

SANDERS: — do I not?

CLINTON: — that’s not accurate.

BLITZER: Go ahead, Senator.

SANDERS: All right. Essentially what you described is my legislation, which includes (INAUDIBLE)…

(APPLAUSE)

SANDERS: Now, we’ve got — here is the issue. Your answer has been the same year after year. In fact, the idea that I’m bringing forth, I have to admit it, you know, it wasn’t my idea. It was Barack Obama’s idea in 2008, the exact same idea.

(APPLAUSE)

SANDERS: He called for lifting the cap, which is now higher — it’s at 118 — and starting at 250 and going on up. If you do that, you’re going to extend the life of Social Security for 58 years. You will significantly expand benefits by 1,300 bucks a year for seniors and disabled vets under $16,000 a year.

What’s wrong with that?

Are you prepared to support it?

CLINTON: I have supported it. You know, we are in vigorous agreement here, Senator.

SANDERS: You have sup…

CLINTON: I think it’s important…

(APPLAUSE)

CLINTON: — to point out that…

(APPLAUSE)

CLINTON: — you know, we’re — we’re having a discussion about the best way to raise money from wealthy people to extend the Social Security Trust Fund. Think about what the other side wants to do. They’re calling Social Security a Ponzi scheme. They still want to privatize it.

In fact, their whole idea is to turn over the Social Security Trust Fund to Wall Street, something you and I would never let happen.

SANDERS: All right, so…

CLINTON: So, yes, we both want to make sure…

(APPLAUSE)

SANDERS: Look, Wolf…

CLINTON: — Social Security (INAUDIBLE)…

SANDERS: — I am very glad that…

(CROSSTALK)

CLINTON: — and well-funded…

SANDERS: I am very glad to…

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: Thank you, Secretary.

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: Senator, go ahead.

SANDERS: — campaign of challenging, if I hear you correctly, Madam Secretary, you are now coming out finally in favor of lifting the cap on taxable income…

(APPLAUSE)

SANDERS: — and extending and expanding Social Security. If that is the case, welcome on board. I’m glad you’re here.

(APPLAUSE)

CLINTON: No.

BLITZER: Thank you.

Errol — Errol Louis, go ahead.

(APPLAUSE)

CLINTON: We are going…

(APPLAUSE)

CLINTON: — we are…

(APPLAUSE)

CLINTON: — we are going…

LOUIS: Secretary…

CLINTON: I — as he said, I’ve said the same thing for years. I didn’t say anything different tonight. We are going to extend the Social Security Trust Fund. There is still something called Congress. Now, I happen to support Democrats and I want to get Democrats to take back the majority in the United States Senate…

BLITZER: Errol…

CLINTON: — so a lot of — a lot of what we’re talking about can actually be implemented…

BLITZER: Errol, hold on a second.

CLINTON: — when I am president.

LOUIS: Secretary…

BLITZER: Go ahead.

Hold on, Errol…

SANDERS: — I’m still…

BLITZER: — Errol. Hold on.

SANDERS: I’ve got to admit…

BLITZER: Go ahead, Senator.

SANDERS: — maybe I’m a little bit confused.

Are you or are you not supporting legislation to lift the cap on taxable income and expand Social Security for 58 years and increase benefits…

CLINTON: I am…

SANDERS: — yes or no?

CLINTON: I have said yes, we are going to pick the best way or combination…

SANDERS: Oh, you — ah.

(APPLAUSE)

(BOOS)

SANDERS: OK.

CLINTON: — or combination of ways…

(BOOS)

CLINTON: — you know…

(BOOS)

CLINTON: — it — it’s all — it’s always a little bit, uh, challenging because, you know, if Senator Sanders doesn’t agree with how you are approaching something, then you are a member of the establishment.

Well, let me say then…

SANDERS: Well, look…

(APPLAUSE)

CLINTON: — let me say this…

(APPLAUSE)

CLINTON: — we are going to extend the Social Security Trust Fund. We’ve got some good ideas to do it. Let’s get a Congress elected…

BLITZER: Thank you.

CLINTON: — that will actually agree…

BLITZER: Well, thank you…

CLINTON: — with us in doing it.

BLITZER: Errol, go ahead.

LOUIS: OK, Secretary Clinton, I’ve got a question for you from a reader…

(CROSSTALK)

SANDERS: Let me interject here.

LOUIS: — of the “New York Daily News.”

SANDERS: Yes, Secretary Clinton…

(CROSSTALK)

SANDERS: — you are a member of the establishment.

LOUIS: — this was a reader…

SANDERS: (INAUDIBLE).

LOUIS: — of “The Daily News” who sent us a…

(CHEERING)

LOUIS: — a question for you.

LOUIS: Just a second, Senator.

Hannah Green (ph) wants to know your position, Secretary Clinton, regarding President Obama’s nomination of Merrick Gaarland to the Supreme m Court. President Obama said earlier this week that he would not withdraw the nomination, even after the presidential election. If elected, would you ask the president to withdraw the nomination?

CLINTON: I am not going to contradict the president’s strategy on this. And I’m not going to engage in hypotheticals. I fully support the president.

(APPLAUSE)

CLINTON: And I believe that the president — the president is on the right side of both the Constitution and history. And the Senate needs to immediately begin to respond. So I’m going to support the president. When I am president, I will take stock of where we are and move from there.

LOUIS: Senator Sanders.

SANDERS: Well, there is no question. I mean, it really is an outrage. And it just continues, the seven-and-a-half years of unbelievable obstructionism we have seen from these right-wing Republicans.

I mean, a third-grader in America understands the president of the United States has the right to nominate individuals to the U.S. Supreme Court. Apparently everybody understands that except the Republicans in Congress.

LOUIS: So, Senator Sanders, would you ask him to withdraw the nomination?

SANDERS: Yes, but here is the point, and obviously i will strongly support that nomination as a member of the Senate. But, if elected president, I would ask the president to withdraw that nomination because I think — I think this.

I think that we need a Supreme Court justice who will make it crystal clear, and this nominee has not yet done that, crystal clear that he or she will vote to overturn Citizens United and make sure that American democracy is not undermined.

(APPLAUSE) CLINTON: You know, there is no doubt that the only people that I would ever appoint to the Supreme Court are people who believe that Roe V. Wade is settled law and Citizens United needs to be overturned.

And I want to say something about this since we’re talking about the Supreme Court and what’s at stake. We’ve had eight debates before, this is our ninth. We’ve not had one question about a woman’s right to make her own decisions about reproductive health care, not one question.

(APPLAUSE)

CLINTON: And in the meantime we have states, governors doing everything they can to restrict women’s rights. We have a presidential candidate by the name of Donald Trump saying that women should be punished. And we are never asked about this.

And to be complete in my concern, Senator Sanders says with respect to Trump it was a distraction. I don’t think it’s a distraction. It goes to the heart of who we are as women, our rights, our autonomy, our ability to make our own decisions, and we need to be talking about that and defending Planned Parenthood from these outrageous attacks.

BASH: Senator Sanders, your response.

SANDERS: You’re looking at a senator and former congressman who proudly has a 100 percent pro-choice voting record, who will take on those Republican governors who are trying to restrict a woman’s right to choose, who will take on those governors right now who are discriminating outrageously against the LGBT community, who comes from a state which led the effort for gay marriage in this country, proudly so.

(APPLAUSE)

BASH: Thank you, Senator.

SANDERS: Who not only thinks we are not going to — not defund Planned Parenthood, we’ve got to expand funding for Planned Parenthood.

(APPLAUSE)

BASH: Senator Sanders, you’ve spoken a lot tonight about your votes in Congress. You have been in Congress for over a quarter of the century, and there as an independent, not a Democrat.

Now you’re seeking the Democratic nomination, but Secretary Clinton has suggested that she’s not even sure you are a Democrat. Are you?

SANDERS: Well, why would I be running for the Democratic nomination to be president of the United States?

(APPLAUSE) SANDERS: But here is a good point. You know, in virtually all of the general election match-up polls between Trump and Secretary Clinton and Trump and Bernie Sanders, in almost all of those polls, I do better than Secretary Clinton both in the CNN poll I was 20 points ahead of Trump.

I think Secretary Clinton was 12 points. And you know why? Because in fact a whole lot of people — this may be a shock to the secretary, but there a whole lot of independents in this country.

(APPLAUSE)

BASH: Senator Sanders…

SANDERS: And we are not going to win the White House based on just long-term Democratic votes. We have got to reach out to independents and I think I am well qualified to do that.

BASH: Senator Sanders.

(APPLAUSE)

SANDERS: I am in this race as a Democrat. I have raised millions of dollars for my colleagues in the United States Senate to help them get elected. I will do everything I can to open the Democratic party to the young people who are flocking into our political campaign.

(CHEERING)

BASH: On that very subject, on that very subject, Secretary Clinton mentions electing a Democratic congress several times. She says that she raised $15 million for the Democratic party in the first three months of this year. You don’t appear to have raised any money for the party. Yesterday you did announce that you will help three members of Congress who have endorsed you. Why aren’t you doing more to help the party you say you want to lead?

SANDERS: The truth is, and you can speak to my colleagues, we have raised millions of dollars to the DSCC. I have written letter that have raised, if I may use the word, huge amount of money so that’s just not accurate.

But, I will also say, and this is important and maybe the Secretary disagrees with me, but I am proud that millions of young people who previously were not involved in the political process are now coming into it, and I do believe, I do believe that we have got to open the door of the Democratic party to those people.

(APPLAUSE)

And, I think the future of the Democratic party is not simply by raising money from wealthy campaign contributors. I think that the way we are doing it in this campaign…

BASH: … Thank you Senator.

SANDERS: $27 a contribution…

BASH: … Senator, your time is up…

SANDERS; not being dependent on Wall Street, or big money, that is the future of the Democratic Party that I want to see.

(APPLAUSE) (CHEERING)

BASH: Thank you, Senator Sanders. Secretary Clinton.

CLINTON: Let us talk about where we are in this race. I’ve gotten more votes than anybody running. 9.6 million at the last count.

(APPLAUSE) (CHEERING)

That is 2.3 million more than Senator Sanders.

(APPLAUSE)

And it is 1.4 million more than Donald Trump.

(APPLAUSE) (CHEERING)

I think you have to look at the facts. And, the facts are that I’m putting together a very broad-based, inclusive coalition from the South to the North, from the East to the West, with African-American, Latinos, women, union households, working people and I am very proud of the campaign we are running. It is a campaign that will not only capture the Democratic nomination, but a campaign that will defeat whoever the Republican end up nominating.

(APPLAUSE) (CHEERING)

BASH: Thank you, Madam Secretary. Senator Sanders.

(APPLAUSE) (CHEERING)

CLINTON: And, I want to say — I also want to say that I do — I do think it is absolutely critical and incredible that we have so many young people involved in the political process. I applaud all of those who are applauding you, Senator Sanders. We’re happy that they are supporting you, that they are passionately committed to you and to the issues.

But, let me also say it’s going to be important that we unify the Democratic party when the nomination process has been completed…

BASH: … Secretary Clinton, thank you.

CLINTON: And, I know something about that…

BASH: … Secretary Clinton…

CLINTON: Thank you so much. Because, when I went to the very end of the 2008 campaign with then Senator Obama…

BASH: …Secretary Clinton, you’re out of time…

CLINTON: … We did unify the party, and we did elect a Democratic president…

BASH: …Senator Sanders, on that note….

SANDERS: … Let me, if I may just briefly say something…

BASH: … Senator Sanders, I want to ask you a question about this, and you can incorporate that into your response. Three months now between now and the Democratic convention. Your campaign manager says that you will absolutely take the fight to the floor if neither you nor Secretary Clinton clinches the nomination with pledged delegates alone.

(APPLAUSE)

BASH: Do you vow to take this fight to Philadelphia no matter what?

SANDERS: I think we’re going to win this nomination to tell you the truth.

(CHEERING)

SANDERS: Look, let me acknowledge what is absolutely true. Secretary Clinton cleaned our clock in the Deep South. No question about it. We got murdered there. That is the most conservative part of this great country. That’s the fact.

But you know what? We’re out of the Deep South now. And we’re moving up. We got here. We’re going to California. We got a number of large states there. And having won seven out of the last eight caucuses and primaries, having a level of excitement and energy among working people and low-income people doing better against Donald Trump and the other Republicans in poll after poll than Secretary Clinton is, yeah, I believe that we’re going to win this nomination, and I believe we’re going to obliterate Donald Trump or whoever the Republican candidate is.

(APPLAUSE)

CLINTON: Now, let me say this…

BLITZER: Secretary Clinton, go ahead.

CLINTON: I think it’s — I think it’s important for people out there watching this tonight to know that I also have a considerable lead in pledged delegates. And my lead in pledged delegates is actually wider than Barack Obama’s lead was over me.

And in addition to winning states in the Deep South, we won Florida, Texas, Arizona, Massachusetts, Ohio, Illinois, North Carolina, Missouri.

(APPLAUSE)

And so I think where we stand today is that we are in this campaign very confident and optimistic, but it all comes down to reaching every single voter. I’m not taking anything for granted or any voter or any place.

So I’m going to work my heart out here in New York until the polls close on Tuesday. I’m going to work in Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Delaware and Maryland, all the way through California. And when we end up with the number of delegates we need, we will unite the party and have a unified convention…

BLITZER: Senator, go ahead. CLINTON: … that we’ll go onto the general election with.

SANDERS: The reason — the reason why in virtually every contest we are winning by very strong margins younger people — and I’m not just talking about very young. You know, the older you get, the younger young gets — 45 or younger — is I think people are sensing that establishment politics and dependence on Wall Street and big money interest is really never going to address the crises that we face.

(APPLAUSE)

And people understand, you can’t take money from powerful special interests into your PAC and then really expect the American people to believe you’re going to stand up to these powerful special interests. So I am very proud of the fact that we have brought millions of new people into the political process…

BLITZER: Thank you, Senator.

SANDERS: … many of whom previously had given up.

BLITZER: Thank you, Senator, very much. The candidates, they will make their final pitches to New York voters right after this.

(APPLAUSE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Welcome back to the CNN presidential debate. It’s time for the candidates’ closing statements. Each candidate will have two minutes. Senator Sanders, you’re first.

SANDERS: I grew up in Brooklyn, New York…

(APPLAUSE)

… the son of an immigrant who came to this country from Poland at the age of 17 without a nickel in his pocket, never made a whole lot of money, but was a very proud American, because this country gave him and my mom the opportunity to send their kids to college.

I believe that this country has enormous potential if we have the guts to take on the big money interests who dominate our economic and political life. And I disagree with Secretary Clinton in the belief that you can get money from Wall Street, that you can get money for a super PAC from powerful special interests, and then at the end of the day do what has to be done for the working families of this country. I just don’t accept that.

What I believe is that this country, if we stand together and not let the Trumps of the world divide us up, can guarantee health care to all people as a right, can have paid family and medical leave, can make public colleges and universities tuition-free, can lead the world in transforming our energy system and combatting climate change, can break up the large financial institutions, can demand that the wealthiest people in this country start paying their fair share of taxes.

And we can do that when millions of people stand up, fight back, and create a government that works for all of us, not just the 1 percent.

(APPLAUSE)

That is what the political revolution is about. That is what this campaign is about. And with your help, we’re going to win here in New York. Thank you. Thank you.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Secretary Clinton? Secretary Clinton?

CLINTON: Thank you. I am very grateful for the fact that the people of New York gave me the great honor of serving as your senator. You took a chance on me in 2000, and then you re-elected me with one of the biggest margins we’ve had in our state in 2006. During those years, we worked closely together. I tried to have your back, and time and time again, you had mine.

We took on the challenges of 9/11 together. We got the money to rebuild New York. We came to the aid of our brave first responders, construction workers, and others who endangered their own health by helping to save lives and search for survivors.

(APPLAUSE)

We worked to create jobs — despite the disastrous policies of George W. Bush — across New York. And we stood up time and time again against all kinds of vested powerful interests.

I’m asking for your support again in the primary on Tuesday to continue that work together, to take what we did in New York and to take those New York values to the White House, and put them to work on behalf of all of our people, to knock down the barriers that stand in the way.

You know, of course we have economic barriers. I’ve been fighting against those trying to even the odds most of my adult life. But we also have racial barriers, gender barriers, homophobic barriers, disability barriers.

(APPLAUSE)

We have a lot of barriers that stand in the way of people being treated as they should and having the chance to live up to their own God-given potential.

So I am humbly asking for your support on Tuesday. I’ll work my heart out for you again. And together, we won’t just make promises we can’t keep. We’ll deliver results that will improve the lives of the people in New York and in America.

(APPLAUSE)

That’s what we’ll do together. Thank you, New York.

(APPLAUSE)

BLITZER: Thank you, Secretary. Thank you very much, Senator.

I want to thank the candidates for a really terrific debate. Thanks also to Dana Bash and Errol Louis, as well as NY1, the Democratic National Committee, and everyone here at the Duggal Greenhouse at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. Stay with CNN now for complete coverage of the New York primary next Tuesday.

Anderson Cooper picks up our debate coverage right now.

Why I’m Supporting Bernie Sanders – The New York Times

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Why I’m Supporting Bernie Sanders

By JEFF MERKLEY APRIL 13, 2016

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NO decision we make as Americans more dramatically affects the direction of our country than our choice for president. He or she is more than the manager of the executive branch, commander in chief or appointer of judges. The president reflects, but also helps define, our national values, priorities and direction.

After considering the biggest challenges facing our nation and the future I want for my children and our country, I have decided to become the first member of the Senate to support my colleague Bernie Sanders for president.

I grew up in working-class Oregon. On a single income, my parents could buy a home, take a vacation and help pay for college. My father worked with his hands as a millwright and built a middle-class life for us.

My parents believed in education and they believed in the United States. When I was young, my father took me to the grade school and told me that if I went through those doors, and worked hard, I could do just about anything because we lived in America. My dad was right.

Years later, my family and I still live in the same working-class community I grew up in. But America has gone off track, and the outlook for the kids growing up there is a lot gloomier today than 40 years ago.

Many middle-class Americans are working longer for less income than decades ago, even while big-ticket expenses like housing, health care and college have relentlessly pushed higher.

It is not that America is less wealthy than 40 years ago — quite the contrary. The problem is that our economy, both by accident and design, has become rigged to make a fortunate few very well off while leaving most Americans struggling to keep up.

And as economic power has become more concentrated, so too has political power. Special interests, aided by their political and judicial allies, have exercised an ever-tighter grip on our political system, from the rise of unlimited, secret campaign spending to a voter suppression movement.
Photo
Bernie Sanders campaigning in the Bronx. Credit Todd Heisler/The New York Times

Under President Obama’s leadership, our country is fairer and more prosperous for all than it was seven years ago. But as we look toward the next administration, there is far more work to do. We need urgency. We need big ideas. We need to rethink the status quo.

Unlike the Republican primary circus, Democrats have a choice between two candidates with lifelong track records of fighting for economic opportunity and who are committed to America’s being a force for peace and stability and who are eager to meet today’s challenges and move our country forward for all its citizens, together.

From her time advocating for children as a young lawyer to her work as first lady of Arkansas and the United States, and as a senator and secretary of state, Hillary Clinton has a remarkable record. She would be a strong and capable president.

But Bernie Sanders is boldly and fiercely addressing the biggest challenges facing our country.

He has opposed trade deals with nations that pay their workers as little as a dollar an hour. Such deals have caused good jobs to move overseas and undermined the leverage of American workers to bargain for a fair share of the wealth they create in our remaining factories.

He has passionately advocated for pivoting from fossil fuels to renewable energy to save our planet from global warming — the greatest threat facing humanity. He recognizes that to accomplish this we must keep the vast bulk of the world’s fossil fuels in the ground.

Bernie is a determined leader in taking on the concentration of campaign cash from the mega-wealthy that is corrupting the vision of opportunity embedded in our Constitution.
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And he has been unflinching in taking on predatory lending, as well as the threats to our economy from high-risk strategies at our biggest banks.

It has been noted that Bernie has an uphill battle ahead of him to win the Democratic nomination. But his leadership on these issues and his willingness to fearlessly stand up to the powers that be have galvanized a grass-roots movement. People know that we don’t just need better policies, we need a wholesale rethinking of how our economy and our politics work, and for whom they work.

The first three words of the Constitution, in bold script, are “We the People.” The American story is a journey of continuous striving to more fully realize our founding principles of hope and opportunity for all.

It is time to recommit ourselves to that vision of a country that measures our nation’s success not at the boardroom table, but at kitchen tables across America. Bernie Sanders stands for that America, and so I stand with Bernie Sanders for president.

Jeff Merkley is a Democratic senator from Oregon.

BERNIE FOR PRESIDENT: A POLITICAL REVOLUTION IS BORN!

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Bernie Sanders, the next president of the United States

Issues
Income and Wealth Inequality

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Today, we live in the richest country in the history of the world, but that reality means little because much of that wealth is controlled by a tiny handful of individuals.

The issue of wealth and income inequality is the great moral issue of our time, it is the great economic issue of our time, and it is the great political issue of our time.
America now has more wealth and income inequality than any major developed country on earth, and the gap between the very rich and everyone else is wider than at any time since the 1920s.

The reality is that since the mid-1980s there has been an enormous transfer of wealth from the middle class and the poor to the wealthiest people in this country. That is the Robin Hood principle in reverse. That is unacceptable and that has got to change.

There is something profoundly wrong when the top one-tenth of one percent owns almost as much wealth as the bottom 90 percent.

“Just as the commandment ‘Thou shalt not kill’ sets a clear limit in order to safeguard the value of human life, today we also have to say ‘thou shalt not’ to an economy of exclusion and inequality. Such an economy kills. How can it be that it is not a news item when an elderly homeless person dies of exposure, but it is news when the stock market loses two points?” – Pope Francis
There is something profoundly wrong when 58 percent of all new income since the Wall Street crash has gone to the top one percent.

Despite huge advancements in technology and productivity, millions of Americans are working longer hours for lower wages. The real median income of male workers is $783 less than it was 42 years ago; while the real median income of female workers is over $1,300 less than it was in 2007. That is unacceptable and that has got to change.

There is something profoundly wrong when we have a proliferation of millionaires and billionaires at the same time as millions of Americans work longer hours for lower wages and we have the highest childhood poverty rate of nearly any developed country on earth.

There is something profoundly wrong when one family owns more wealth than the bottom 130 million Americans.

The reality is that for the past 40 years, Wall Street and the billionaire class has rigged the rules to redistribute wealth and income to the wealthiest and most powerful people of this country.

This campaign is sending a message to the billionaire class: “you can’t have it all.” You can’t get huge tax breaks while children in this country go hungry. You can’t continue sending our jobs to China while millions are looking for work. You can’t hide your profits in the Cayman Islands and other tax havens, while there are massive unmet needs on every corner of this nation. Your greed has got to end. You cannot take advantage of all the benefits of America, if you refuse to accept your responsibilities as Americans.
As president, Senator Bernie Sanders will reduce income and wealth inequality by:

Demanding that the wealthy and large corporations pay their fair share in taxes. As president, Sen. Sanders will stop corporations from shifting their profits and jobs overseas to avoid paying U.S. income taxes. He will create a progressive estate tax on the top 0.3 percent of Americans who inherit more than $3.5 million. He will also enact a tax on Wall Street speculators who caused millions of Americans to lose their jobs, homes, and life savings.
Increasing the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $15 an hour by 2020. In the year 2015, no one who works 40 hours a week should be living in poverty.
Putting at least 13 million Americans to work by investing $1 trillion over five years towards rebuilding our crumbling roads, bridges, railways, airports, public transit systems, ports, dams, wastewater plants, and other infrastructure needs.
Reversing trade policies like NAFTA, CAFTA, and PNTR with China that have driven down wages and caused the loss of millions of jobs. If corporate America wants us to buy their products they need to manufacture those products in this country, not in China or other low-wage countries.
Creating 1 million jobs for disadvantaged young Americans by investing $5.5 billion in a youth jobs program. Today, the youth unemployment rate is off the charts. We have got to end this tragedy by making sure teenagers and young adults have the jobs they need to move up the economic ladder.
Fighting for pay equity by signing the Paycheck Fairness Act into law. It is an outrage that women earn just 78 cents for every dollar a man earns.
Making tuition free at public colleges and universities throughout America. Everyone in this country who studies hard should be able to go to college regardless of income.
Expanding Social Security by lifting the cap on taxable income above $250,000. At a time when the senior poverty rate is going up, we have got to make sure that every American can retire with dignity and respect.
Guaranteeing healthcare as a right of citizenship by enacting a Medicare for all single-payer healthcare system. It’s time for the U.S. to join every major industrialized country on earth and provide universal healthcare to all.
Requiring employers to provide at least 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave; two weeks of paid vacation; and 7 days of paid sick days. Real family values are about making sure that parents have the time they need to bond with their babies and take care of their children and relatives when they get ill.
Enacting a universal childcare and prekindergarten program. Every psychologist understands that the most formative years for a human being is from the ages 0-3. We have got to make sure every family in America has the opportunity to send their kids to a high quality childcare and pre-K program.
Making it easier for workers to join unions by fighting for the Employee Free Choice Act. One of the most significant reasons for the 40-year decline in the middle class is that the rights of workers to collectively bargain for better wages and benefits have been severely undermined.
Breaking up huge financial institutions so that they are no longer too big to fail. Seven years ago, the taxpayers of this country bailed out Wall Street because they were too big to fail. Yet, 3 out of the 4 largest financial institutions are 80 percent bigger today than before we bailed them out. Sen. Sanders has introduced legislation to break these banks up. As president, he will fight to sign this legislation into law.

Posted by Ainhoa Aristizabal — Unruly Hearts editor

Hillary Clinton: “If I’m President, We Will Attack Iran… We would be Able to Totally Obliterate Them.”

 

 

 

In-depth Report: IRAN: THE NEXT WAR

 

Endless wars are certain no matter who succeeds Obama. Clinton’s finger on the nuclear trigger should terrify everyone. ~ Oliver Stone filmmaker

 

By Stephen Lederman

Note: This piece which is of extreme relevance to the US election campaign was originally published in July 2015.

On July 3, 2015, presidential aspirant Hillary Clinton addressed a hand-picked audience at a Dartmouth College campaign event. She lied calling Iran an “existential threat to Israel… I hope we are able to get a deal next week that puts a lid on (its) nuclear weapons program.”

Even if we do get such a deal, we will still have major problems from Iran. They are the world’s chief sponsor of terrorism.

They use proxies like Hezbollah to sow discord and create insurgencies to destabilize governments. They are taking more and more control of a number of nations in the region and they pose an existential threat to Israel.

We…have to turn our attention to working with our partners to try to reign in and prevent this continuing Iranian aggressiveness.

Fact: US and Israeli intelligence both say Iran’s nuclear program has no military component. No evidence whatever suggests Tehran wants one. Plenty indicates otherwise.

As a 2008 presidential aspirant, she addressed AIPAC’s annual convention saying:

The United States stands with Israel now and forever. We have shared interests….shared ideals….common values. I have a bedrock commitment to Israel’s security.

(O)ur two nations are fighting a shared threat” against Islamic extremism. I strongly support Israel’s right to self-defense (and) believe America should aid in that defense.

I am committed to making sure that Israel maintains a military edge to meet increasing threats. I am deeply concerned about the growing threat in Gaza (and) Hamas’ campaign of terror.

No such campaign exists. The only threats Israel faces are ones it invents.

Clinton repeated tired old lies saying Hamas’ charter “calls for the destruction of Israel. Iran threatens to destroy Israel.”

“I support calling the Iranian Revolutionary Guard what it is: a terrorist organization. It is imperative that we get both tough and smart about dealing with Iran before it is too late.”

She backs “massive retaliation” if Iran attacks Israel, saying at the time:

“I want the Iranians to know that if I’m president, we will attack Iran. In the next 10 years, during which they might foolishly consider launching an attack on Israel, we would be able to totally obliterate them.”

She endorses using cluster bombs, toxic agents and nuclear weapons in US war theaters. She calls them deterrents that “keep the peace.” She was one of only six Democrat senators opposed to blocking deployment of untested missile defense systems – first-strike weapons entirely for offense.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net.

His new book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.”

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs. 


The US Election Campaign and the Curse of McCarthyism

 

How a Kindly Senator from Vermont Helped Save America From Fascism. And What Wisconsin Can Do Now to Shake off the McCarthy Curse

 

“Joseph McCarthy is the only major politician in the country who can be labeled “liar” without fear of libel.” Joseph Alsop

“The State Department is infested with communists. I have here in my hand a list of 205 names that were made known to the Secretary of State (Dean Acheson) as being members of the Communist Party and who nevertheless are still working and shaping policy in the State Department.”  – Senator Joseph Raymond McCarthy, February 9, 1950, Wheeling, West Virginia

“If somebody would only smuggle me aboard the Democratic campaign special with a baseball bat in my hand, I’d teach patriotism to ‘Little Adlai’.” – Joseph McCarthy, mocking 1952 Democratic presidential candidate Adlai Stevenson). – Joseph R. McCarthy

 ”I call Marco Rubio, ‘Little Marco’. That frightened little puppy couldn’t be elected dog-catcher in Florida.” – Donald Trump

“Joseph McCarthy was a disgrace to Wisconsin, to the Senate, and to America” – William Proxmire, Democratic Party successor to McCarthy. (Proxmire was elected US Senator in a special election in August, 1954 and was subsequently re-elected by landslides 5 times {71% of the vote in 1970, 73% in 1976 and 65% in 1982}. In his last two Senate campaigns , he refused to take any campaign contributions, and in each campaign he spent less than $200 (out of his own pocket) — to cover the expenses related to filing for re-election and for return postage for unsolicited contributions. He was an early advocate of campaign finance reform.

“There are significant analogies between the American fear of Communism during the McCarthy era and the American fear of Islam at the beginning of the twenty-first century.” ― Ben DanielThe Search for Truth about Islam:  A Christian Pastor Separates Fact from Fiction

*

Not too long ago, a mild-mannered, 73 year old US Senator from Vermont rose to speak on the floor of the US Senate and introduced Resolution 261 (read it further below). The senator had reached the limits of his patience with a name-calling, mocking, free-swinging, demagogic, megalomaniacal, right-wing politician who had bamboozled thousands of Wisconsin voters to support him.

The name of the Vermont senator was Ralph E. Flanders, and the date was June 1, 1954. Flanders was a moderate Republican, and name-calling politician who had bamboozled thousands of Wisconsinites to support him, was Joseph Raymond McCarthy. Some Republicans back then were moderates and some of them agreed with Flanders that the far-right McCarthy was destroying the Republican Party while selfishly working to achieve his self-promoting agenda.

And so, just like the candidacy of Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, the courageous, likeable Vermont Senator Flanders spoke up when it was his duty to do so in order to save America from fascist influences like the infamous Friendly American Fascist, Joseph R. McCarthy.

Flanders and Sanders were and still are simply following a critically-thinking, justice-seeking and independent-minded Vermont tradition. There must be something in the still pure water and still pure air up there. Wisconsin – and my state of Minnesota – still have relatively pure water and air in the northern halves of their states; that is, unless extractive industries like the mining and industrial-strength pig farming industries have anything to say about it.

As an aside, I should mention that recent studies have shown that the drinking water in the eastern, more conservative part of Wisconsin has been contaminated for an unknown number of years with the non-nutritive metallic element strontium (for which there are no known positive health benefits) with undetermined adverse effects. I am certain that the agricultural parts of Wisconsin are probably as contaminated with the agricultural toxins Atrazine and Round-up as are the agricultural parts of southern Minnesota, whose drinking water has been contaminated for years with both toxic pesticides. Those realities are worth speculating about since brain-altering chemicals can affect one’s personalities and politics.

But I digress. Back to Wisconsin politics and proto-fascism.

Before relating what Senator Flanders did to save America from another rightward lurch toward fascism and demagoguery back in 1954, I include some more background to the story.

The Late, Lamented, Friendly American Fascist from Wisconsin, Joseph R. McCarthy

Joseph McCarthy grew up on a Wisconsin farm in a large, poor Irish Catholic family. After growing up and failing at chicken farming, he got a law degree at Marquette University, a Jesuit college. After setting up what turned out to be a failed law practice, he served for two years in WWII and then, on returning home from the war, went into politics. In 1946, he just barely managed to get elected to the US Senate (by bamboozling Wisconsin voters to vote for him by campaigning on false stories of his “heroism” in the South Pacific (where he was a non-combat desk jockey). The major hurdle in getting to the Senate was his upset primary election victory over Wisconsin’s incumbent senator Bob La Follette, Jr.

La Follette had been a pro-farmer/pro-labor Wisconsin Progressive Party US Senator, but the Progressive Party had recently been dissolved so he had to run for re-election as a Republican in 1946. Having been advised that it should be unnecessary to run an active campaign against the unknown upstart McCarthy, he was narrowly defeated by just 5,000 votes.

McCarthy’s first three years in the Senate were uneventful, except for the fact that he fell in with a variety of nefarious corporate interests that included Texas millionaires, the sugar lobby and real estate interests. He also became known for his proclivity for betting on the ponies, drinking too much and speculating in the stock market.

The Beginning of the Proto-Fascist McCarthy Era

On February 9, 1950, eager to make a name for himself, McCarthy finagled a speaking gig at a Women’s Republican Club/Lincoln Day event in Wheeling, West Virginia. In that speech he made the infamously false claim that he knew of the existence of 205 communists in Truman’s State Department.

With that revelation, McCarthy suddenly began generating 24/7 media coverage from fawning right-wing newspapers, their reporters and their photographers, similar to how the media covers big city gangsters like Al Capone or narcissistic, megalomaniac wannabe politicians like Donald Trump. Significantly, McCarthy revised the 205 number down to 57 by the time he got back to Washington.

Tellingly, McCarthy never made his fake list available to the public, just as our modern-day Republican McCarthy “look-alikes” like Rafael “Ted” Cruz or “act-alikes” like Trump and Cruz refuse to say how they will deal with any number of the many complex foreign or domestic policy issues that real presidents have to deal with.

As one example of the similarities between the current GOP candidates for president, Trump has refused to talk about any of the details concerning one of his biggest applause lines, promising to build a wall along the entire northern border of Mexico and then having Mexico pay for it.

The entire world is laughing at a nation that will even tolerate such delusional thinking.

The Conservative Media Went Gaga Over McCarthy – for About 4 Dangerous Years

Newspapers back in the Franklin Delano Roosevelt New Deal era (and they perform the same way today) consistently favored conservative politicians and their anti-labor union, pro-business, pro-banking and war-profiteering interests by 5 to 1 margins, and they covered those issues and candidates in a similarly disproportionate fashion. One only has to recall the huge “Dewey Wins!!” headline on the ultra-conservative Chicago Tribune’s front page as President Truman proudly displayed it the day after his upset win over the conservative Dewey in 1948.

Starting with the Wheeling speech, and buoyed by the overweening press coverage he was given free of charge, the narcissistic far right wing senator from Wisconsin expanded his anti-communist agenda until he foolishly bit off more than he could chew and accused the US Army of harboring communists. It wasn’t long before the hard-drinking, hard-gambling, paranoid demagogue was exposed as a total fraud, and he was justly humiliated out of power.

The final blow occurred on June 9, 1954, the 30th day of the televised Army-McCarthy hearings, when the chief counsel for the Army, Joseph Welch, ended his interrogation of McCarthy with the statement that finished the senator’s destructive political career. Here is Welch’s famous accusation of McCarthy – and the fatal question (which “went viral”):

“Little did I dream you could be so reckless and so cruel…If it were in my power to forgive you for your reckless cruelty, I would do so. I like to think I’m a gentle man, but your forgiveness will have to come from someone other than me…You’ve done enough. Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last? Have you left no sense of decency?”

Following that truth-telling statement, the press instantaneously lost interest in the spectacle of McCarthy, and the deluded, megalomaniacal senator drank himself to death over the next couple of years. Partly because the Republican Party had tolerated such a demagogue for as long as it had been to their political advantage, the Democrats regained both the House and the Senate in the 1954 mid-term elections. Justice sometimes does happen in politics, especially when a courageous person of influence does his duty.

So let’s go back to hear more about the Flanders/Sanders resistance against Friendly American Fascism.

The Flanders/Sanders Connection: The Role of Independently Thinking Vermont Senators

Even before the Army-McCarthy hearings began, Senator Flanders had been concerned that even war hero president Dwight D. Eisenhower (who actually despised McCarthy) seemed to be reluctant to confront the bullying tactics of “Tail-gunner Joe” (aka the “Pepsi-Cola Kid” – because of his early efforts on behalf of the soft drink company’s sugar interests). So on behalf of the better nature of his party and calling McCarthy “a Dennis the Menace”, Flanders issued Resolution 261, which read as follows:

“Resolved, that the conduct of the Senator from Wisconsin is unbecoming a member of the US Senate, is contrary to senatorial traditions and tends to bring the Senate into disrepute. Such conduct is hereby condemned.”

The GOP Habit: Fighting Communism with Fascism

Two days later, as part of the senator’s continued efforts to persuade the GOP-dominated Senate to finally take action against McCarthy’s hysterical anti-communist witch-hunting, he appeared on NBC’s “Meet the Press” and proclaimed to the nation what everybody in Washington already knew (but nobody dared to say out loud): that McCarthy had become “the sole private eye, prosecutor, judge, jury and sentencer (of suspected anti-fascist, liberal, pro-democracy, so-called “communists”). This is so clearly in the direction of fighting communism with fascism that I am seriously disturbed.”

Two months earlier (March 9, 1954), well before the Army-McCarthy hearings began, the well-respected Flanders had spoken on the Senate floor, accusing McCarthy of trying to destroy the Republican Party. In the speech, Flanders said of McCarthy:

“He dons his war paint. He goes into his war dance. He emits his war whoops. He goes forth to battle and proudly returns with the scalp of a pink Army dentist [google the “Irving Peress affair”]. We may assume that this represents the depth and seriousness of Communist penetration at this time.”

What Wisconsin you can do NOW to Shake off the McCarthy Curse

This next week is the run-up to the 2016 Wisconsin primary elections scheduled for Tuesday, April 5. Bernie Sanders is running not just for president of the United States. He is also running for the sustainable future for the planet and for people all over the earth. The rest of the world understands that.

Bernie is arguably the most important politician coming from a number of independent-minded, justice-seeking, whistle-blowing senators (from Vermont or wherever), and he is coming off three impressive landslide victories over the center-right Wall Street and War Street-favored candidate Hillary Clinton in Washington, Alaska and Hawaii.

The mainstream media should be totally ashamed of itself for the way it has handled Bernie’s dramatic, ground-breaking news story.

Over the few days preceding the primary elections in those three states, there was absolutely nothing new to report from the Republican campaigns. The Brussels bombings had already been discussed, ad nauseum; but the 5 to 1 ratio held true to form.

On the three Sunday morning network TV shows the day after Bernie’s dramatic victories every panel member on every show was either covering Trump or Clinton or the campaign perspectives of Wall Street and War Street. Discussion about the Sanders campaign was shut out.

Trump and Terrorism totally over-shadowed the real important news about the Sanders revolution. No coverage of the amazing bird that hopped up on the podium and looked at Bernie was shown. Even most of the late-night talk shows gave short shrift to Bernie’s campaign.

So now Wisconsin, you who have the unusual checkered history of alternately producing or being governed by major Socialist Party politicians or major Progressive Party politicians or your embarrassing lapses into being governed by far-right, anti-labor, anti-democracy, proto-fascist GOP politicians like Joseph McCarthy and Scott Walker (whose paymasters were and still are big corporations and multimillionaires and billionaires who are seeking more privileges and wealth for themselves (like lower taxes and less regulations) and fewer privileges and wealth for the working class (like lower wages and poor access to affordable health care).

So from one of your neighbors to the west, please be aware that a lot of progressive young Wisconsinites are out there working for Bernie Sanders the next week. Please watch one of Bernie’s heartfelt rallies on YouTube, feel the Bern and join the anti-fascist revolution.

Dr Kohls is a retired physician from Duluth, MN, USA. He writes a weekly column for the Reader, Duluth’s alternative newsweekly magazine. His columns mostly deal with the dangers of American fascism, corporatism, militarism, racism, malnutrition, psychiatric drugging, over-vaccination regimens, Big Pharma and other movements that threaten the environment or America’s health, democracy, civility and longevity. Many of his columns are archived at http://duluthreader.com/articles/categories/200_Duty_to_Warn

Bernie Sanders Consistent Over Decades in His Call for ‘Revolution’

 

 

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Senator Bernie Sanders at a rally in Los Angeles on Wednesday. Credit Monica Almeida/The New York Times

“The real issue is who controls the wealth of this country”

~Bernie Sanders

MARCH 25, 2016

 “Hillary has a lead with delegates so therefore he should change that message? Well, no,” said Mr. Devine. He said that voters found Mr. Sanders credible precisely because his speeches never seemed cooked up for the occasion; instead, he “delivers it as dictum.”

BURLINGTON, Vt. — On the night of the New Hampshire primary, the high-water mark of his presidential campaign, Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont called his rout of Hillary Clinton “nothing short of the beginning of a political revolution” and vowed to stop the “billionaire class” from buying elections.

It was barely different from the speech he gave March 15, the day he lost five of five primaries, when he asked thousands of his adoring fans: “Are you ready for a political revolution? Are you tired of a handful of billionaires running our economy?”

Nor, for that matter, was it much changed from his address to a spaghetti dinner of the Addison County Community Action Group in 1984, when he called for a “political revolution” and urged working people to take power from a “very small group of wealthy people.”

It is a political score Mr. Sanders has been singing for the last 40 years, and he does not seem ready to stop anytime soon. Regardless of the results on the scoreboard, the state on the map, the year or even the decade, Mr. Sanders has talked with clockwork consistency about an economy rigged against the working class, a campaign finance system that corrupts politicians and a corporate media that obscures the truth.

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Terry Bouricius, a protégé of Mr. Sanders’s who was elected with him to the Burlington city government in 1981. Credit Jacob Hannah for The New York Times

“You could take one of his speeches from 1981, play it in the campaign this year, and no one would know, except his voice sounds a little bit younger,” said Terry Bouricius, a protégé of Mr. Sanders’s who was elected with him to the city government here that year and who has followed his career closely since.

While politicians constantly try to stay on message, Mr. Sanders is the king of message discipline. While other candidates have been lampooned for robotic redundancies or caricatured as cut-and-paste campaigners, Mr. Sanders has made oratorical consistency his calling card.

His young and loyal fans practically sing along with his timeless refrains: “the richest one-half of 1 percent” in 1971, the “richest 1 percent of the population” in 1991 and “the top one-tenth of 1 percent” in 2015. Last year, the MSNBC anchor Rachel Maddow began a segment on Mr. Sanders’s hyperconsistency by playing an audio clip of Mr. Sanders lamenting “the two-party system dominated by big money,” and asking viewers when he said it. The answer: 1989.

Mr. Sanders is not opposed to emphasizing different notes depending on the venue. In the South he talks more about civil rights, in the Rust Belt he hits trade harder, and his campaign said that in Wisconsin, which votes on April 5, he will highlight campaign finance reform.

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Mr. Bouricius and Mr. Sanders in 1987.

But they are simply variations on a theme.

Matt Motyl, a political psychologist at the University of Illinois at Chicago who is studying how the candidates speak, said that while most politicians will adjust their language, if not their message, to what they believe the crowd wants to hear, Mr. Sanders does not.

“He’s peculiar in that he doesn’t really respond to that,” he said.

To his detractors, Mr. Sanders’s repetition makes him a doctrinaire ideologue, a broken record who lacks intellectual flexibility and fails to see the world any differently now than he did as a 20-something radical firebrand.

Asked if Mr. Sanders had ever been forced to change his thinking, his campaign said that he had cast a vote for the war in Afghanistan, but then called for the withdrawal of American troops when the war seemed to become a quagmire. Other than that, said Michael Briggs, his spokesman, the senator had been “remarkably consistent.”

There have been rare moments in Mr. Sanders’s career in which the two chief tenets of his socialist worldview — a critique of American militarism and exploitation of the working class — have come into conflict.

Graphic: 2016 Delegate Count and Primary Results

In 1983, he found himself in a tight spot when his allies in the peace movement protested at a local General Electric plant that made Gatling guns used in El Salvador. Mr. Sanders had urged the protesters to leave the unionized workers alone, saying, “Not everybody has the luxury of choosing where they are going to work.”

Mr. Bouricius, who had a front-row seat to Mr. Sanders’s anguish, said issues like war and militarism were important to him. “But they were all seen as one step down from what he saw as the fundamental issues, which was capitalism and the privilege of wealth,” he said.

That clarity has been critical to Mr. Sanders’s aura of authenticity and has attracted millions of young voters. It has also provided a stark contrast with Mrs. Clinton, who has echoed him by saying “the economy is rigged in favor of those at the top” but who still has trouble convincing voters she is trustworthy.

In the 1970s, Mr. Sanders argued his message from the political fringe, and then, starting in 1981, from his perch as the Socialist mayor of Burlington. From that office he sent news releases like one that read, “If the working people and people of moderate income do not become increasingly involved in the contemporary political struggles then the political decisions will continue to reflect the interests of the small clique of money people who presently dominate state and national politics.”

The Burlington Free Press highlighted a quotation of Mr. Sanders’s from 1971 — “the real issue is who controls the wealth of this country” — and observed that 14 years later, “He’s still singing the same tune.”

In 1988, he ran for Congress, sending a note on personal stationery inviting Vermonters to help him “make basic changes in an economic and political system in which 1% of the population owns over 50% of the wealth.”

In countless speeches and interviews and debates in Congress, the Senate and now on the presidential trail, Mr. Sanders has essentially said the same thing over and over. Mr. Bouricius worried, though, that Mr. Sanders had not done enough to actually build the political revolution he had spent 40 years calling for. “If Bernie gets hit by a bus,” Mr. Bouricius said, “a lot of this just goes away.”

Mr. Sanders is now facing a speeding bus in the form of Mrs. Clinton’s formidable delegate advantage.

But Tad Devine, Mr. Sanders’s top strategist, said his message would resonate strongly in coming contests.

“Hillary has a lead with delegates so therefore he should change that message? Well, no,” said Mr. Devine. He said that voters found Mr. Sanders credible precisely because his speeches never seemed cooked up for the occasion; instead, he “delivers it as dictum.”